Uses and misuses of online-Survey Panels in Digital Research

With the use of internet, it is more cost-effective for market researchers to recruit their respondents and conduct surveys. In spite of the widespread use of online-survey, the quality of the result is always questioned. The following paragraphs will analysis the advantages and disadvantages of using online survey in digital research.
In online survey, probability sampling is not used to recruit online panels. Online surveys often recruit people from online advertisements or invitations at web sites specifically built to recruit consumers to join survey panel and complete surveys. Although many researchers do not believe Internet bias is an issue in their research, some researchers argue that it may lead to erroneous conclusions in terms of digital behaviour when measuring some specific items. Online survey has some disadvantages to measure cross-platform and cross-channel behaviours. First, the result may not be inaccurate when using online survey measure consumer engagement in a cross-platform world. For instance, it is not appropriate to ask online-survey respondents to estimate their time spent online and the time spent watching television. There will be huge errors in the result. It is mainly due to the two reasons. Firstly, some respondents may have trouble to recall how they spend their time accurately. Another reason is those respondents may spend more time on Internet compared with other people. Due to the same reasons, it also causes huge bias in measuring customers’ online spending behaviours by using online survey. In that case, skews of respondents’ online behaviours and recall errors are mainly responsible for the inaccurate of the result of online survey.
In spite of the disadvantages, online surveys can also provide good result if using it in an appropriate way. It is suitable to measure the impact of digital advertising campaign, the drivers of digital consumer behaviors, the satisfaction of a website, and visitor and non-buyer analysis.

Despite online survey is widely used nowadays, it is still necessary for the market researchers to take the shortcoming of using online survey into consideration when they conducting a digital research.


FULGONI, G 2014, ‘Uses and Misuses of Online-Survey Panels in Digital Research’, Journal Of Advertising Research, 54, 2, pp. 133-137, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 1 May 2015.


9 thoughts on “Uses and misuses of online-Survey Panels in Digital Research

  1. It is tricky because how do they know which results are relatively accurate and which are skewed? Also, people rush through online surveys, not even trying to give accurate results, just to get to the end and enter the competition, or simply just to finish. I think the shorter the survey the better. If it is too long, people will rush through it and not give enough input into their answers. or maybe thats a problem with all surveys!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When prizes are involved, there are now online bots that fill in surveys with random information, to increase the chance of winning. You can imagine what this does to the credibility of the surveys.


  3. You have to get your information from somewhere & this is probably relatively inexpensive compared to other methods & potentially gets to more people. Incentives are a great way to get people in, after all, what’s in it for me? Am I really interested in helping a brand better market itself, or are they really interested in what I have to say about their stuff and or what they do? Think Triple M Music Jury.


  4. I agree that with no incentives respondents are not motivated to fill out online surveys let alone fill them accurately. At times one may not be fully aware what the questions are about or a specific product or service being talked about thus may give misleading answers because of their lack of knowledge I’m the subject, boredom and even lack of interest. Another major downfall of online surveys is that most have open ended questions so it is hard to validate the information given


  5. Online surveys are highly inaccurate and biased as you can never do randomization, don’t have a control group and neither can you disqualify a participant if he chooses to fill in inaccurate information which mostly is the case with incentive based surveys. However based on the browsing history of participants if a survey is conducted of not more than three questions chances are that you will get honest answers.


  6. Thanks for this article – some interesting points about the limitations of online surveys.

    I think a successful online survey is 1) SHORT and 2) Offers compensation for the survey-taker’s time. It really annoys me when I get a pop up asking for ‘5 minutes of my time’ from a company without anything in return.

    Fairfax have an interesting approach – they have created a pool of readers (of which I am one) and collect initial data about them (age, gender, income) and then link that to their email. They then send specific surveys to different groups of people about their experience of interacting with the Age and other media. I receive an email maybe every three months or so asking me to do a survey. For being in the pool I think I receive a monthly chance of winning an iPad or something. It seems like a good way to avoid a lot of the problems which can come along with online surveys


  7. I concur with the previous blogs that online surveys need to be short and “incentavised” to ensure they are completed with valid responses. And whilst people may argue that they are little use to due to their weaknesses (Inaccuracy and bias) I believer they are a valid marketing tool used in the right place a time. The strengths of a online survey (inexpensive, easy to distribute, easy and quickly analysed) makes it a suitable tool for obtaining customer feedback as the data gathered is not critical to cause significant consequences if the data is inaccurate or biased. And for such a use there are other KPI’s which can be used (i.e. Sales trends) to validate the data. However, due to the weaknesses of the tool it is unlikely you would use this tool for more crucial information such as gathering information for Marketing Strategy without some very specific strategies in overcoming these weaknesses.


  8. Online survey are sometimes annoying me, because it says when we complete the survey; we will win some prize and after filling the details it will ask for the credit/debit card details to claim the prize. Though its a strategy of any organization to attract people and it reveal us to know whether its real or not. Especially this happens when popular brands provide the panel for getting survey. Though the blog speaks about the effectiveness of online survey, it is still depends on the human mind set at the time of surfing internet.


  9. Online surveys are in vogue because for the researcher it’s more like a do it yourself exercise as the researcher can conduct, analyze the complete survey at about fraction of a cost and time and it is also convenient for the respondent to respond at his or her own convenience. With a plethora of advantages there are few doubts that need to be addressed when it comes to online surveys like the authenticity of the data is always under question and the problem of incomplete questionnaires and sometimes the respondent is not able to understand the context of the questionnaire because an interviewer is missing. Therefore, the authenticity of the complete exercise is usually questioned.


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