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

If
you know 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

Advantages:
-
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

Disadvantages:
- 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
Advantages:
-
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)
 
Disadvantages:
- Limitation
in case of low incidences are needed
- Limitation on
the number of cases to be achieved
- Slightly higher costs
Photo by http://blog.allworkandnoplay.de/
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.’
Make sure to join the discussions about panels and communities at the upcoming The Market Research Event  in Florida, hosted by IIR, USA. We’ll have plenty
to discuss…
About the author: Christian D??ssel is blogging about market research in German language here and here.
After having worked for TNS, TBWA and other strategy and market
research agencies he now holds the position of Senior Research Director
at MM-Eye in Hamburg / Germany with special responsibilities for MM-Eye’s new media and online research approaches