Recruitment of participants for Online Research Communities, the role of Online Access Panels


If you are familiar with the business of online access panels  – maybe because you sometimes need that kind of service – you may know that providers of online access panels position themselves on the ground of huge panelsizes or because of delivered quality.
The respective underlying business model is correspondingly either quantities or it is defined by the quality of respondents’ information.
Both models of course have several advantages and disadvantages.

Quantity model
– Even small audiences with low incidence rates can be reached adequately
– High demands on field time and costs can be met
– Large numbers of cases are possible

– Higher fluctuation and „panel-mortality“
– Only few qualifying information about the participants available
– Recruitment methods are not always transparent
– Only little knowledge about the influence of the panel model on panelists self-perception as survey participants

Quality-driven model
– High quality responses on more strict rules of access to new panel members (eg. member-get-member)
– Extensive screening
– Qualitative analysis of the panelists (eg minimization of screen-outs as the basis of the relationship management)

– Limitation in case of low incidences are needed
– Limitation on the number of cases to be achieved
– Slightly higher costs

Photo by In the context of online research community projects it is necessary to recruit participants not only to because of their target-group characteristics. You rather put demands on communication skills beyond “tip-the-box” as well as sufficient intrinsic motivation to participate.
Wherever it is generally a good idea to recruit participants via online access panels, we prefer those providers with a quality-driven approach. Results always are extremely high response rates, low drop-out rates over time (even in communities with longer durations) and last but not least positive effects in terms of ­panelists’ appreciation being a participant in market research.
Without participants and their willingness to share their experiences, attitudes and preferences, we would have a hard time.
So it is always a pleasure to read feedback like this after completion of online research communities:

“Thanks a lot to the moderators and creators of this community. I had a lot of fun and I have learned a lot. I’m happy that I was able to exchange with others and there were a lot of good hints. You, the scribblers, have been a great group! Thanks a lot. I wish all the best to all participants and perhaps we will meet one day on the internet or even in real life.”


Über den Autor

Marktforschung mit Leidenschaft mit jeder Menge Erfahrung wie Research für Marketing, Strategie und R&D nutzbar gemacht wird

4 Kommentare

  1. Sebastian Sadoni am

    We had some really bad experiences by recruiting via online-panels for our MROCs…. now we started recruiting offline, screening, talking to them, testing their creativity… much better!

  2. Hey Sebastian, I agree. Quality of participants heavily depends in quality of Online Panel. anyway, you need time for proper recruitment.
    For some research objektives it is only possible to recruit offline, I think. Depends mainly on target audience…

  3. Sebastian Sadoni am

    Yes indeed you need time! but i prefer a longer recruitment than uninteressted „sleeping“ participants… how can i really controll the quality of an online-panel in advance? quite impossible. what do you think about online-panel-provider that also conduct MROCs? do you trust the quality?

  4. There is no general judgement about online-panel-provider that also conduct MROCs. Some do very well, some don’t. I agree that there is a general suspect that they try to sell the same participants for another type of project. My hunch would be that they should learn from customer feedback…
    Speaking from experience, I have to say that you can’t control quality of an online-panel in advance. But you can ask what they are doing in order to ensure a satisfying and enjoyable expereince for their panelists. If they care about that in terms of minimizing screen-outs, ban 30 minutes surveys, etc. than I would prefer this kind of provider for recruiting online for a MROC project…