Paid Surveys & Bad Respondents Redux

A while back, I wrote about how paid surveys are a good source of bad respondents and how just a few bad respondents can increase your likelihood of drawing incorrect conclusions from survey findings.  Yet, I still stumble upon blogs promoting and encouraging people to make money by taking paid surveys.

Remember when blood banks used to pay people to donate blood?  And how it led to alcoholics and junkies donating blood to get money to support their addictions?  Needless to say, their blood was worthless.  The same undesirability happens with paid surveys – companies engaging in paid surveys often end up with respondents whose objective is the money rather than the topic of the survey; and, just as needless to say, their responses are worthless.

There is nothing wrong with providing an incentive for a survey.  Often, an incentive is necessary to get more respondents to participate.  However, the respondent base and the incentives should be controlled.  As I described in my last post, How Much Damage do Bad Respondents do to Survey Results?, I suggest controls such as asking your sample vendor how it screens panelists, how it prevents respondents from getting the same survey multiple times through different panels, understanding how the sample vendor tracks survey-taking behavior, and how it prevents the same panelist from using multiple e-mail addresses to register as several separate panelists.

By the looks of this blog post, Paid Market Research – Is It Really a Way to Make Money?, which I’ve “tracked back,” it seems that this problem isn’t going away anytime soon.

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