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In market research, a panel refers to a group of pre-selected individuals that share similar traits and have agreed to provide feedback repeatedly over a period of time for market research purposes. These individuals are known as panellists and they are given monetary and/or non-monetary incentives in exchange for their participation.
Studies that use panels provide longitudinal data as variables are measured at different points in time using the same panel of participants so that changes in attitude, behaviour, and/or sentiment can be identified and measured.
An internet survey panel (also referred to as an online survey panel) is a kind of research panel that consists of panellists that have been pre-recruited and pre-screened through online channels to be a part of a virtual survey panel. These individuals have expressed a willingness to participate in online surveys in exchange for incentives such as cash, gift vouchers, discount coupons, etc. When using internet survey panels, it is pivotal to ensure that respondents go through a thorough screening process before becoming panellists so that the risk of fraudulent responses can be avoided.
Internet survey panels can be created using many different methods. Let’s go over the three most commonly used methods to form panels used by online research panel providers:
API, or application programming interface, facilitates interactions between data, applications, and devices. Verified partner panels can be integrated into the system using API platforms.
Panel providers can also work with third-party sources to acquire participants. However, in order to maintain consistency and obtain authentic results, it is vital that the data from these sources passes through a thorough verification and screening process.
Dedicated and localized survey platforms can be used to gather participants. These websites are often promoted through a range of online channels such as social media and search engines. These online ads ensure that the panels keep growing.
There are two main types of internet survey panels and they are:
Business to consumer research panels consists of a company’s target consumers and end-users. You can ask these panellists about their opinions and sentiments toward different concepts, ideas, products, and services, so as to obtain insights that will allow you to optimize decision-making to be more customer-centric.
Business to business panels are comprised of business professionals such as company owners, heads, and decision-makers. These B2B panels are used by organizations that need help and guidance from other business professionals while making significant business decisions.
Let’s take a look at some key advantages of using internet survey panels:
When utilizing online panels, you have access to many different kinds of audiences and you aren’t limited to a certain number of participants. This is because most people have access to the internet and can therefore be a part of a research panel.
Data can be collected instantly through online channels, allowing the collected information to be evaluated and analysed quicker as well.
When compared to other methods of surveying such as in-person or through call, online surveys are the most cost-effective solution. Additionally, online research panel providers often take on the entire process of recruiting and profiling panellists so this cost does not have to be wholly borne by you.
As it is easy and convenient to respond to surveys through online channels, participants require less incentive to participate. This allows researchers to utilize their resources to acquire a larger research panel than would be feasible through offline channels.
Although internet survey panels have a long list of advantages, they also have a few limitations:
As internet survey panellists require access to the internet, those who do not have access to an internet connection will not be able to participate in internet panel surveys. Therefore, it doesn’t give you access to individuals who don’t have a live internet connection, such as those who are a part of the rural population, as well as to those individuals that aren’t comfortable with the use of the internet, such as the senior-citizen population.
As researchers provide an incentive to respondents in exchange for their survey responses, there is the risk of people submitting fraudulent responses under different profile names in an attempt to gain additional monetary/non-monetary rewards. Fraudulent responses negatively impact your study’s data quality, resulting in skewed and unreliable results.