What is the Difference Between Omnibus Surveys and Traditional Online Surveys?

What is the Difference Between Omnibus Surveys and Traditional Online Surveys?

Omnibus surveys are a type of online survey. However, the two have a few differences that often confuse organizations looking to conduct quantitative market research.

For a quick overview, here are the definitions of both methodologies:

  • Online surveys: A structured questionnaire that a target audience completes via desktop, mobile phones, tablets, or other internet-enabled devices. It is sponsored by one organization.
  • Omnibus surveys: A structured questionnaire administered to a general population of respondents that asks questions sponsored by several different organizations.

Looking for a more in-depth analysis? Keep reading as our market research company aims to clear up the difference between omnibus surveys and traditional online surveys.

What is an Omnibus Survey?

An omnibus survey is a type of market research that is often sponsored by more than one organization.

Market research firms like Drive Research administer omnibus studies (also referred to as piggyback surveys) weekly, monthly, or a quarterly cycle.

Think of it like this…

  • Company A purchases 3 questions to measure brand perception.
  • Company B purchases 3 questions to identify factors of choice for financial institutions.
  • Company C purchases 3 questions to ask about consumer’s favorite social media platforms.

The questions purchased by Company A, B, and C form a 9-question omnibus survey.

The omnibus survey is programmed and fielded by a market research company to be answered by a general population of respondents.

Company A, B, and C only receive the data collected from the three questions they purchased.

For instance, Company A would not see the data collected on consumer’s favorite social media platforms.

how does an omnibus survey work

How is an Omnibus Survey Different from a Traditional Online Survey?

A traditional online survey, let’s say a customer satisfaction survey, is sponsored by one organization.

Organizations can work with third-party market research firms to design a survey (often ranging from 10 to 25 questions), field the survey to their target audience, and report on the findings.

The main difference between omnibus surveys from traditional surveys are:

  • Sponsored by more than one organization.
  • Sponsors of omnibus surveys ask fewer questions than if they were to sponsor an entire survey.
  • Respondents are often a general population rather than a specific target market.
  • Oftentimes less costly.

Full-service market research companies will likely offer both omnibus surveys and online surveys.

Recommended Reading: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Omnibus Surveys


Omnibus Surveys vs. Traditional Surveys: What is Better?

Omnibus surveys are not better than online surveys and vice versa. Choosing between the two methodologies is dependent on your objectives, timeline, budget, and other factors.

We discuss each factor below to help guide your decision.

What’s your market research objective?

While omnibus surveys can be fielded to target audiences and markets, they are more often sent to a panel of respondents from across the country.

For this reason, there are specific business objectives best solved with online surveys vs. omnibus studies.

Common objectives for traditional online surveys:

  • Measuring customer satisfaction to improve retention rates.
  • Measuring employee engagement to improve morale and retention rates.
  • Measuring target consumers to improve new products and/or services.

Common objectives for omnibus surveys:

  • Measure consumer buying behaviors when purchasing a car.
  • Measure consumer preferences when shopping online vs. in-store.
  • Measure consumer awareness and perception regarding a produce brand.

What’s your project timeline?

What of the greatest benefits of omnibus surveys is their quick timeline. In most instances, results are gathered in 24 to 48 hours.

On the contrary, online survey projects can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It can take more time to write, field, and report on a customer survey.

If you need results as soon as possible, omnibus surveys may be a better choice. I’d recommend speaking with a market research partner to determine how quickly they can execute each type of study.

Here is what to look for to find the best omnibus survey company.

What’s your budget for market research?

Online surveys are the most cost-effective market research methodology.

Filtering that a bit more, omnibus surveys are the most cost-effective type of quantitative survey.

If your budget is extremely tight, an omnibus survey will be less expensive than sponsoring an entire online survey. Again, consult with a market research partner to see the project costs associated with both.

Conduct Traditional Online and Omnibus Surveys Today

Drive Research is a full-service market research company located in Upstate New York.

Our team of certified market research professionals carries over 30 years of experience executing all types of online survey projects – including omnibus surveys.

Interested in receiving a quote for a market research project? Contact our team today.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily carroll about the author

Emily Carroll

A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Coordinator. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Learn more about Emily, here.


subscribe to our blog

Online Surveys