The trustworthiness of online panels is dissolving like pennies in a tub of sulfuric acid, but don’t take our word for it. There’s an active conversation among panel providers themselves about the predicament they’re in. The state of that conversation is reflected in the excerpts below, which can be found online in eBooks and podcasts available at InnovateMR.com.
- “Data quality issues have proliferated throughout the industry, with increased incidences of fraud…”
- “Uniqueness is a major challenge for online panel development, leading to high levels of overlap between panels as sample companies all fish from the same pond.”
- “Online recruitment sources tend to be over-saturated with thirty-something mothers and are underrepresented in key groups including young males, African Americans and Hispanics…”
- “With a smaller pool to draw from, many respondents belong to multiple panels…Their responses…can skew the results of a study, simply due to limited population sample.”
- “Bots are becoming increasingly sophisticated, to the point that the data…is nearly indistinguishable from real data. It’s a mess as [fraudsters] increasingly use bots to mimic people and fill out surveys…”
- “[Bots] don’t stand out the way they used to. [In the past] we would be able to see bot activity because it [had] completion time of one minute. Now the scripting can mimic behaviors of a real human.”
- “And [bot creators] know the various checks that companies employ…and so they’re mimicking human behavior in a closer way than they ever have before. So it makes it very difficult…to be able to say without a doubt… that this [respondent] is good and this [respondent] is bad.”
- “Right now it’s a pretty dire situation, we really need to change the focus and fix these things….”
There’s more, but how much angst can a person absorb all at once?
On the brighter side, the prospects for representativeness, panel reliability and engagement, and freedom from fraud have never been better for market research. All you need to do is seize the opportunity presented by the mobile apps that dominate consumers’ smartphone use.
For a productive and strictly upbeat conversation about how advanced mobile-app research can meet your projects’ specific needs, and relieve you of the kinds of worries you’ve just read about, please get in touch by clicking here.
And for a quick, entertaining video overview of mobile research, click here.