The sourcing challenge – Remedying the differences due to multiple online panel sources

Brian Fine, Con Menictas and Paul Wang
University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia

INTRODUCTION

Since the Internet was accepted as a way of life for consumers and businesses globally, marketing and social research has used online panels at an increasing rate. While online research offers many benefits such as improved efficiencies and new technology such as visual capabilities, it brings with it its own unique challenges. Some of the pitfalls of online research were earlier addressed by initiatives such as the ESOMAR 25 and 26 guidelines. Since that time, an increasing number of new entrants have entered the online panel provider market. These new entrants, including existing online research panel providers, are all chasing the same respondents. As a result, there is a real danger of many respondents turning 'professional'. Professional respondents exhibit certain characteristics; for example, they tend to have lower incomes, such as student or part-time worker incomes, and supplement their income by enrolling themselves into literally dozens of different online panels to chase incentives.