In the past, the source of panelists for sample was highly scrutinized. We’d get questions like, “Are they recruited from social media?” If there were, many would reject the sample in favor of other sources they deemed more credible. So stringent where sample procurement departments at that time that they even questioned incentives. For example, I remember working with a retailer who did not want to work with our panel because we offered incentives from a competitive retailer. They thought it would skew the results.
Flash forward ten years and not only do sample procurement departments not care where panelists are coming from, but there are entire sample companies built on utilizing incentives from a myriad of retailers, throwing the caution of potential respondent influence to the wind.
So why has sample procurement departments suddenly had a change of heart? In short, scarcity. Respondents are becoming more and more difficult to source. We’ve seen a steady decline in response rates over the last decade. When coupled with the decline in double opt-in to traditional online panels, procurement departments no longer have the luxury of turning down a sample source.
Does that mean that the pitfalls of river sample and potential skews in incentives have just gone away? Not really, but we are now aware of these potential biases and are designing research accordingly.
The recent acquisition of P2Sample by Cint signals a mainstream acceptance of river sample and non-traditional recruitment methods for the sample industry. So, what are the implications of the Cint of P2P Sample for traditional panel companies?
As more acquisitions happen in the sample space, the pressure for smaller players to deliver sample will become greater. Audit your current panel setup and find the gaps. Start thinking outside of the traditional double opt-in model to see if a less traditional approach can help optimize your panel recruitment strategy.