With tight budgets and shrinking revenues in the face of a weak economy, more market research firms and brands are electing to bring management of their panels in-house. Self-management can offer greater control over the panel’s processes, features and usage, and provide a means to monetize other assets, such as website visitors. The problem is that successful panel management is tougher than it looks. Smaller research companies and brands often lack some of the skill sets that are crucial for maintaining a thriving panel. Larger organizations may very well have all of the necessary skill sets to manage their panels internally, but those skill sets reside in many different employees across several departments, and thus significant collaboration is required to achieve success.
For any research company or brand that is attempting in-house panel management, a full assessment of the required skill sets and communication channels should occur. Does your business have the resources and defined processes in place to ensure value is realized? Here is a high-level summary to consider.
Often research companies and brands believe they can save money and maintain better control of the panel if it is managed in-house, and in many cases they are right. But sometimes companies utilizing in-house management ignore ongoing development and personnel costs, and/or the cost of panel atrophy, which can occur from lack of adequate panel attention. A panel should be thought of as a core business asset and should be monitored for performance on a regular basis. While some companies find success, many others fail because they press on with in-house management when they lack the necessary skill sets and resources, and/or because critical cross-department collaboration does not occur.
Research panels provide immeasurable valuable when implemented and fostered correctly. Each organization must evaluate its capabilities with an honest assessment, and for those that lack any of the crucial panel management components, outsourcing can save not only time and money, but ensure panel health as well. An additional route to consider is a hybrid solution in which the research firm or brand maintains responsibility for certain aspects of panel management, while outsourcing others that require more specialized skills and knowledge. Many vendors, including Kinesis, allow for panel management services to be customized, and can even assist in the evaluation process of your internal resource capabilities.