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Marketing

7 Reasons Why Consumer Audiences Are Better Than Panels

September 26, 2018

7 min read

If panels are the once well-loved but now impractical Morris Marinas, by the same metaphor audiences are the the safest, shiniest, most modern Teslas.

Panels served our needs once upon a time, they got us from A (questions) to B (answers from consumers). But the world has moved on, and so has the consumer insights sector. Now you can get from A to B much faster, more reliably and even enjoy the ride along the way.

A panel is a database held by a market research provider, or loaned by one, of consumers who’ve given their consent to be contacted to complete surveys. By their very nature, panels tend to be static, and attract a certain type of person, not necessarily representative of the wider population.

An audience, on the other hand, is dynamic. Audiences can be found everywhere, in their natural environment. Where might you find audiences? You’ll find them browsing the web, chatting in forums, playing games, as members of loyalty schemes…whatever motivates and interests them to be part of a community. Taken together, audiences provide a true representation of our wider population.  

Lots of traditional consumer insights providers opt to call upon their own panels to respond to the survey requests of their clients. But this methodology is outdated, to say the least.

Even the biggest panels have their limitations; you can only grow a bespoke panel so fast. An audience is drawn from dozens of sources, allowing enough growth to keep the pool of respondents fresh.

Here’s why the whizzy audience approach laps the outdated panel option, 7 times over.

1. Scale

As you can imagine, audiences are everywhere, and so the scope for finding the right people is huge. When using Attest, this means you can reach 100 million (100,000,000!) consumers all across the world. Traditional panels just can’t amass that kind of scale.

Perhaps even more importantly, people naturally leave and join different audiences, keeping the pool of potential respondents for you fresh and engaged, without the scale suffering.

A panel grows and is refreshed at a much slower rate, while the drop-off rate can’t be controlled.

2. Diversity

This dynamic approach to recruitment, a virtue of having hundreds of sources of the respondents that sit in our audience, allows for huge diversity in the range of consumers who are drawn into the mix.

A panel is made up exclusively of consumers who have a shared attitude or incentive. For example, if you’re working with a provider that specialises in political polling, their panel will typically be more interested in politics and current affairs than an average consumer. This inevitably skews the results, and leads to less engaged answers when they’re not polling them about politics.  

There are often further limitations to the panel approach, founded in the format of the panel – for instance it might only be available on one operating system or offer only one incentive form – which leads to less representative outcomes.

With the audience approach, responses come from a variety of different sources, automatically diversifying the respondents you’ll actually receive.

3. Representative

The mixed recruitment and incentive methodologies offered by an audience approach – as each one of the dozens of suppliers has their own recruitment and incentive methods – gives a higher quality pool as it isn’t biased towards the attitudes or behaviours of one group of consumers. It also increases the variety of demographics represented, and adds to the richness of each of those demographics.

While 20-something-year-old male gamers might be drawn to surveys that unlock further levels in their favourite games, 60-something-year-old retirees might instead be drawn towards the valuable insight they can offer to some of their favourite brands. Allowing for this mix of incentives grows the number of attitudes sitting within this audience.

4. Quality

Aside from the increased quality that a wider scale, diverse and representative respondent pool naturally offers, there are steps taken by Attest and our partners to ensure high standards.

There are double the quality checks with Attest’s audience approach; our partners run quarterly quality checks – including dummy surveys which they look over for classic signs of poor quality data: speeding, conflicting demographic details and poor free-text answers – while Attest also monitors free-text answers and automatically removes bad respondents from both the individual survey and the wider respondent pool.

While panel providers might have a quality checking system in place, none are able to offer a double quality-assurance process, such as Attest can.

5. Consistency

Differing survey design can be a biasing factor when it comes to conducting consumer research. For instance, the eye can be drawn to different areas on the screen depending on the layout of the question and answers.

Despite the many routes by which a respondent could come into the Attest audience pool, all survey participants see the same, optimised survey platform. You can preview how your survey will look to respondents, through the survey building platform, and rest assured that all your respondents will see what you see. 

The quality of the survey design for those using a panel will vary from one consumer insights provider to another, but with Attest you know that the survey interface is designed to meet consumer insight best practices, including being optimised for use on mobile, where most respondents complete their surveys.

6. Targeted

Attest, unlike most other consumer insights providers, don’t charge for any level of targeting. The diversity of our audience allows us to offer 14 demographic segments, from which any combination can be chosen.

This ability to set quotas is incredibly powerful, removing the bias towards too many people from a certain demographic from taking your survey, which in turn provides a more balanced and accurate picture from which you can make decisions.

Not only will you be able to see how many active respondents match your requirements, we’re completely transparent when it’s likely to be difficult to reach the quotas you want to set, and can suggest alternative ways to access the respondents you’re after.

Panel providers will be constrained by the demographics of the respondents that sit within their pool, without the easy option of onboarding further suppliers to meet incoming requirements; it could take any amount of time to recruit matching profiles to their panel.

7. Exclusive

Thanks to the unparalleled scale of the Attest audience, it’s (almost always) possible to offer exclusive audiences, depending on your survey requirements. If it’s important to the integrity of the data that a series of surveys be seen by different respondents, perhaps because they’re being run in quick succession, then it’s possible to easily set up these requirements.

In smaller panels, in particular, there might not be the richness of each demographic to be able to offer this service. Panels also remain static, and grow at a slower rate, whereas the pool that an aggregator has access to is constantly refreshed by the onboarding of new suppliers.

While there’s little need to use exclusive audiences beyond the time frame of a few months, if running a monthly brand tracker (or a series of creative tests) with Attest, the exclusive audience feature can be fundamental to the gathering of quality and unbiased results.

The Next Steps…

To start using the Attest audience to answer your burning questions, get in touch with the team today.

Whether you’re keen to target specific segments of the market, to get to grips with the sentiment of key consumers, or want to discover new potential markets by keeping the approach broad, the Attest audience can provide quality data that allows you to base your biggest business decisions on reality, and not self-concocted fiction.

Ditch the old Morris Marina and hop in a shiny new Tesla to join the future of consumer insights!

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