How much can you trust online research?

Last year Procter & Gamble created some controversy in the online research world. They explained that they got very different results with two identical surveys conducted by the same online research vendor… just a few days apart. This cast some doubt on the credibility of online research, especially given the influence clout of the CPG marketing giant.

In my personal experience, it is definitely possible to have robust online samples that are not too biased. But this comes at an extra price, and will often slightly extend the duration of the data collection phase. This may come in the way of the attractiveness of online market research solutions, whose two main advantages are low cost and fast turnaround.

Many research executives agree that one major issue with online panels are the so-called deceptive or professional respondents. In other words, people who take surveys to earn a few bucks and are giving incorrect or random answers.

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As I was working on an online survey last week, I came across an interesting initiative called PureSample that is worth mentioning.

It is easy to detect deceptive respondents, based on inconsistencies or short survey completion times. Puresample identifies their email addresses and allow panel managers to identify and isolate the people who are likely to make a survey inaccurate.

Kind of feels like a spam filter for surveys, doesn’t it?

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On a related note about the growing importance of reliable samples, Dynamic Logic – probably the most prominent online advertising research company – launched in August 2007 a separate company called Safecount. They focus exclusively on the recruitment for online advertising surveys.

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