Online Panels Benchmarking Study

The pervasiveness of the internet has led to online research, and in particular online research undertaken via non-probability online panels, to become the dominant mode of sampling and data collection used by the Australian market and social research industry. There are broad based concerns that the rapid increase in the use of non-probability online panels in Australia has not been accompanied by an informed debate regarding the advantages and disadvantages of probability and non-probability surveys. Thus, the 2015 Australian Online Panels Benchmarking Study was undertaken to inform this debate and report on the findings from a single national questionnaire administered across three different probability samples and five different non-probability online panels. Our findings were that the three probability samples as a group were less biased on the substantive measures and had less variance from the benchmark values, compared to the nonprobability surveys. The Social Research Centre also found that using data from probability surveys can improve accuracy of nonprobability surveys through blending and calibration.