A Closer Look at Online Panels

Nowadays, online panels are widely used for recruiting panelists (online survey respondents) and for collecting data from online, paid surveys. Despite a large number of organizations using this effective method, surprisingly little is known about the core of online panels and their ability to elevate a business’ scale through better data-driven decisions.

In this article, you will learn about online research panels and we will share with you our secrets to building a great one.

Table of Contents

  1. What is an online panel?
    • Concept
    • Scope
  2. Types of online panels
    • Corporate panels
    • Supplier panels
  3. Secrets to building a great online panel
    • Target panelist
    • Fraud prevention
    • Panel platform
    • Research activity
    • Reward system
  4. The strengths of SynoPanel and SynoRewards

What is an online panel?

An online panel is a platform where researchers can recruit a group of panelists who share similar traits, interests, and backgrounds to answer online paid surveys. For many complicated surveys with detailed requirements on target populations, online panels are a powerful tool to help researchers recruit and monitor leads as well as control the data.

The scope of an online panel can be big or small depending on the objectives of the panel owner. For panel owners that want to sample in many countries, their online panels might be global in scale—reaching panelists in different countries to ask their feedback. For instance, McDonalds may want to know about their Asian customers’ preferences to improve their strategy within this market. To do this, they will need to ask those who are Asian (or who live in Asian countries) and have tried their food before. A McDonalds’ branded online panel, in this case, will help McDonalds group their customers by in-house screening requirements, and, with a click of the mouse, they can send surveys to all qualified panelists. Besides being faster and more convenient, having your own panel can ensure that the data comes from a certified source. Additionally, an online panel can also be used to send appropriate incentives or rewards, such as discount voucher, to panelists who submit valid feedback.

Types of online panels

Corporate Panels

According to a study on the history, concepts, and applications of online panel research by a group of experts in 2014 (1), there are two main types of online panels. The first one is corporate panels. This type of online panel is simply one that is owned by a business or organization that conducts their own surveys and wants to send those surveys to their target customers. The McDonalds example above illustrates this first type. Since the panelists in a corporate panel are all individuals that the company will want to target in their research, the IR (incidence rate) within the panel can be higher than other types of online panels. However, as a drawback, corporate panelists might lose enthusiasm over time due to an overall shortage of surveys. After all, only one company is asking and sending out questionnaires. If the number of questionnaires sent to panelists remains low, the panel engagement rate will be decreased dramatically.

Supplier Panels

The second category is supplier panels, which consist of panel partners in both the B2B and B2C sectors. In this case, a company creating a questionnaire will send a request to a supplier panel company, which will then provide information about the estimated IR based on quotas and the target specifications of the study. Specifically, suppliers do not usually create surveys—their recruited panelists are invited to participate in online surveys created by other researchers. For example, in order to investigate the travel activities and frequency of travel for people in the Southeast Asia region, a travel agency might contact a supplier panel company with a large Southeast Asia online panel. After reviewing the survey requirements, this company would provide its feasibility—the estimated number of qualified panelists—and take care of the sampling process. Generally, supplier panels might be more balanced in maintaining response rates and engagement between panelists and the online panel. Nevertheless, this type of online panel has its own drawbacks. For example, supplier panels often contain a large number of “professional panelists”, or those individuals who take a large number of surveys for money. These professional panelists often know how to answer surveys in a way that maximizes their earnings, and may not be representative of the general public.

(1). Callegaro, M., Baker, R., Bethlehem, J., S. Göritz, A., A. Krosnick, J., & J. Lavrakas, P. (2014). Online panel research – History, concepts, applications and a look at the future.

Secrets to great online panels

If you are a researcher and want to build yourself a great online panel, you will need to consider the 5 key points below.

  • Target panelist: What kind of demographic do you want your panel to have? First, you will need to narrow down the circle of target respondents. Recruiting a group of people who fit your typical survey criteria is the first stage of ensuring output quality.
  • Fraud prevention: In order to keep panelists and data validity, fraud prevention measures should be carried out properly from the beginning, such as using screening questions, duplicate detectors, etc.
  • Panel platform: Using a low-quality platform for your online panel is like building a house without a stable foundation. A panel that is friendly to the users (both researchers and panelists) and functions well is always a good choice.
  • Research activity: By conducting online surveys frequently, the IR within the panel can be increased significantly. With a responsive resource, you can quickly collect data in a cost-effective way.
  • Reward system: All information about rewards should be transparent. This attracts panelists to participate in the panel as well as in surveys. Also, the system for panelists to redeem their rewards should be simple and easy to manipulate.

The strengths of SynoPanel and SynoRewards

One of the key points to building a great online panel is to build it on a trusted platform. At Syno International, we provide SynoPanel as one of the most powerful platforms to help you with your market research. Now, you might ask yourself what online panel category SynoPanel is in. SynoPanel is a system that combines the best of corporate and supplier panels. We do this by allowing brands or media companies to leverage their name value to create open panels that are widely used throughout the market. By providing and creating online open panels, panels have both high engagement rates and high panelist and data quality. Moreover, because these panels are a part of Syno Cloud, panel owners can gain in-depth, 360 degree profiles of their panelists. Use of the panel for panel owners is very cost effective, and by opening the panel to the marketplace, panel owners can gain a significant source of additional revenue. Last but not least, creating the panel through Syno is often free of charge—we take care of everything for you so that you can sit back and enjoy the benefits.

To further create great online panels, Syno International also provides SynoRewards as a platform for reward redemption. It has a friendly interface, smooth operational performance, and diverse reward options. You can even create custom rewards! Overall, we believe that SynoRewards can be a great assistant to SynoPanel.

For more information about our services, please feel free to contact us.

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