Online Panels are quickly growing as a sophisticated research tool.
Traditional polling/research continues to face challenges of including in samples people who no longer have a land telephone line at home.
While some researchers see the inclusion of online respondents to be controversial, we believe it is a method to address the decrease in response rates across the board.
According to data from the National Health Interview Survey, 39% of adults had only a cell phone during the latter half of 2013, up from about 5% in 2004. Adults who have only a cellphone are younger, poorer, and more likely to be renters, to live with unrelated adults, and to be Hispanic than those who also have a land line phone. Samples based only on landlines thus have significant coverage biases.
We have observed several institutions include an online panel into their polling results (or a dual-frame samples):
- Pew Research
- New York Times
- CBS News
Online polls or panels are based on opt-in, non-probability panels of respondents. They continue to grow in popularity and dominate the market research world. Online panels have been shown to have advantages in terms of data quality for certain kinds of questions, including those on sensitive topics.
Online surveys also make it possible to incorporate pictures, graphs, and videos into an interview. Finally, online panels offer considerable pricing advantage than telephone surveys.
- The Case For Publishing (Some) Online Polls, Humphrey Taylor, from: http://www.pollingreport.com/ht_online.htm
- Q/A: What the New York Times’ polling decision means, Pew Research, from: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/07/28/qa-what-the-new-york-times-polling-decision-means/