The conversation around conducting surveys with online panels rather than face to face or CATI is one that comes up every day for me in South East Asia. Whilst this is an entirely valid discussion, online actually adds ways to ensure trustworthy and valid respondents. In this mini-series, we unlock the truths behind these myths.
Knowing who someone really is isn’t exclusive to our industry. If we look at the everyday world, people can look us in the eye and lie. We filter this, both consciously and subconsciously and take forward what we have confidence in being true. Now back to research. As a student, I had friends who would get calls from focus group recruiters offering them 5000 Rs ($80 USD). The next question would be 'do you like/ consume ‘x’ product?' They would agree to anything to get into the focus group and take the money home, including saying they drank Malibu regularly (I’m not sure anyone can say that hand on heart!) Whilst these recruiters are not a fair reflection of all in the industry, online uses pre-screeners that are far more subtle than this tactic (and far less heavily incentivised, granted) which encourage a level of honesty from the outset.
Online also allows for data to be stored on previous responses and activity. This starts at the very beginning. When signing up, we put new recruits through stringent identity validation checks. Firstly, PII (one or a combination of name, physical address and email address) is matched to a third party database. Their IP address is also captured, checked against proxy servers and a known list of fraudulent servers. Further, we capture profiling information which can then be used to check back against throughout their panellist lifetime.
But this alone wouldn’t be enough. Recognising this, Lightspeed GMI developed a unique tool to identify unlikely combinations of responses to detect outliers in data and remove over reporters. Honesty Detector certifies panellists as ‘honest’ every 60 days, blocking those who do not pass from any survey participation. At survey commencement we also engage both proprietary and industry standard digital fingerprint tools. These help to identify and prevent respondents entering the survey twice, in conjunction with IP address validation.
I am sure you will agree, these are far more thorough than those we use to establish truth in those we are talking to in daily interactions. Beyond these tools, the best way to have confidence in knowing who you are talking to in your online study is by talking to your supplier. Using a single source, or at least a single supplier to manager various sample sources when required, means you can seek the detail of how they manage their panel and survey process to overcome concerns around fraudulent respondents and give you confidence in the research you conduct.
THINK RESPONDENT FIRST. DOWNLOAD OUR PANEL PROFILING TIPS.