A new form of sugging?

I’m a member of an online survey panel and have lately noticed a disturbing practice by the panel’s operator.

On my home page on the panel’s site, included among the list of links to available surveys for which I’m urged to see if I qualify are links that seem to be survey links. But instead, as I’ve found when I’ve clicked on them over the past few weeks, they’ve taken me to various marketing come-ons for mortgage refinancing and other similar types of offers.

True, as promised, I have been (supposedly) given an entry into a sweepstakes in exchange for clicking on the link, so the panel company is delivering on its end there. But rather than taking an actual survey, I end up angrily clicking “no” multiple times to escape Bait and Switchland.

What gives?

I’m sure the panel providers have affiliate relationships with these various e-marketers and earn a small cut for every consumer who signs up or says yes or otherwise agrees to participate. I get that part of it. But are those pittances worth the risk of forever linking the word “survey” to “sales pitch” in a panel member’s mind? How long will it take before a panel member grows tired of his or her click leading not to a survey but to a spam-like ad and decides to stop participating in the research process? And what happens when they start telling their friends and family about how they had joined a panel once but ended up quitting because it was just a bunch of ads?

Is that the lasting impression we want to make?

This entry was posted in Consumer Research, Market Research Best Practices, Panels, Quantitative Research, State of the Research Industry, The Business of Research. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A new form of sugging?

  1. Page Schorer says:

    I’d close the window as soon as the first ad appeared. I’d quit the panel. I would not use the panel company for my research. You might want to search the name and see what comments turn up. Sounds to me as though it is not a research panel company at all but a come-on. They probably get paid if you just click through on an ad, not just if you “buy”.

  2. K Hodges says:

    Joe, in my mind, these affiliate relationships cheapen the image of both the profession and the research sponsor. I too can’t believe that it is really worth it for the sponsor. However, I wonder if they even have any control over the situation or not.

    Our household has recently been receiving robo call “surveys” seeking opinions on the current government debt situation. Surprisingly, they lead off the call saying you have won a cruise and all you have to do is answer the 3 questions and hold on the line. I was very surprised that they were so boldly letting on with the cruise part upfront — a real reversal. Some online research indicates these folks get around the DNC rules as they are doing a “survey”. Again, another sugging scenario that chips away at the legitimate research industry. Do we, as an industry need to be more forceful or direct in dealing with this behavior?

  3. Craig says:

    I believe there is a case for a ‘class action’ lawsuit against telemarketers. The basis for the case would be the damage caused to the research industry’s reputation – which has the following repurcussions:

    1. Lower response rates (with the resultant financial and representation costs).
    2. Damages peoples perception of the profession.
    3. Brand equity losses.

    Personally I’m sick and tired of receiving such calls.