Survey Panels and River Sampling

Deep Profiling and Survey Invitations

Most panel companies maintain profiles of the members who belong to the panel. An online panel can be regarded as a database. As with any database it is possible to hold information about people on the database. In the case of online panels, the type of information held often goes significantly beyond name, gender, age and place of residence. It can include a long list of data about the panel member's preferred brands, health, use of mobile phones, shopping habits, commuting and holiday activities. This type of deep profiling information is very useful when it comes to targeting potential survey respondents.
Members of panels are usually sent invitations to surveys via email, although some alert new survey opportunities on a website or an app (e.g. iphone app). Survey invites can be sent to all panel members, or can be targeted against profile information held on panel members.
Surveygoo provides a simple interface for targeting panel members across hundreds of quality assured online panels, using standard targeting criteria.

River Sampling

A second method is known in the panel industry as river sampling. Respondents for surveys are effectively recruited via banner and pop up ads, and usually for a specific promotion. There is some evidence to suggest that this recruitment method is useful for intercepting individuals who are not registered with online panels, particularly among younger demographics. Companies which favour river samples often argue that it is a method of intercepting individuals who are not over-researched, or are not so called professional respondents.
The downside to the use of river sample is that it lacks the transparency of profile data collected on the respondent that profile panels have, and this can limit options for tracking/repeating surveys.

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