Lifepanel for CATI Fieldwork agencies

#TLDR: We are launching a marketplace for CATI fieldwork agencies that make use of the Sample Solutions Dual Frame RDD Sample. CATI Fieldwork agencies and provide the Lifepanel ID back to us and in return receive access to these respondents for mixed-mode data collection.

In recent years, Western Europe has seen a further drop in response rates for national representative CATI studies. While response rate alone is not necessarily an indicator of the representativeness of a survey, low response rates come with another big disadvantage: Increased cost for data collection using CATI.


Europa Eurostat

EU estimate 2022 not available: Ireland, Iceland, Switzerland, North Macedonia and Kosovo* *Kosovo (XK) This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence. Source: Eurostat (online data code: isoc_ci_in_h)

At the same time, it can be seen that online penetration levels reach close to full coverage in some markets as well as similar coverage levels for phone and internet access. With that in mind, the shift towards probability-based online or mixed-mode panels comes naturally. This blog article explores a marketplace model for CATI fieldwork agencies to make use of this development and offer the best of both worlds for their clients: Mixed mode probability-based recruitment using online and CATI.


Lifepanel for fieldwork agencies


The Lifepanel marketplace model


What is in it for CATI fieldwork agencies?


How does it work in practice?


Does that mean the CATI fieldwork for NatRep studies will become obsolete?


Lifepanel for CATI fieldwork agencies

For many CATI fieldwork agencies, the question of whether online (probability) panels will replace traditional national representative surveys will arise without a doubt. With Sample Solutions (from which Lifepanel is a spin-off), we have been working with over 300 CATI fieldwork agencies worldwide and with a lot of them on NatRep surveys.

The question, therefore, arises whether online will completely replace CATI as a data collection mode. Within Lifepanel, the main source of recruitment is derived from actual RDD telephone frames using both landline and mobile for most countries.


The Lifepanel marketplace model

Lifepanel makes use of its partner network of fieldwork agencies that make use of the Sample Solutions RDD sample for their CATI fieldwork. After permission is received from the fieldwork agencies, the panel members are invited to join Lifepanel in exchange for an incentive or donation.

This model ensures that every respondent is derived from the same RDD frame. This is a win-win situation for CATI respondents and fieldwork agencies as they can use the respondent for an additional interview at a later stage.

The marketplace model eliminates a lot of wasted resources from not re-utilizing respondents from RDD surveys.


What is in it for CATI fieldwork agencies?

Once we provide an RDD telephone sample for some national representative work, we can piggyback on existing completed or partial interviews and invite these respondents to our panel. On the CATI side, only a last question for permission is required. We do not require any additional info about demographics but solely the ID of the phone number.

Lifepanel will pay for the incentive for the respondent should they join the panel. In exchange for that, Lifepanel provides back one free interview for that specific respondent to the CATI fieldwork agency within the next 12 months. This means that from a CATI fieldwork agency perspective, you are able to combine existing recruited panel members and combine them with ongoing CATI fieldwork and therefore offer a mixed methodology which is based on the same probability-based telephone frame.

From a CATI fieldwork perspective, there is no need to deal with the entire recruitment and double opt-in process. Additionally, methodological requirements like selection probability on a respondent level are handled by Lifepanel. Also re-interviewing the respondent and the invitation process is handled by Lifepanel.

From a fieldwork perspective, you can lower the cost for future fieldwork as you can offer a probability-based mixed recruitment methodology where for example half of the fieldwork is conducted via your traditional CATI recruitment methodology and the other half via Lifepanel at a heavily reduced cost as you can re-access respondents that have been provided by you.


How does it work in practice?

When ordering a dual-frame RDD sample from Sample Solutions for your NatRep study, Sample Solutions will flag each phone number with a unique ID (our Lifepanel ID). You then run your data collection to get to your N=500 or N=1000 interviews and ask for permission to re-contact those that have completed the survey or partially completed the survey.

For these people that have agreed to be re-contacted again, you provide the Lifepanel ID back to Sample Solutions and we invite these people to Lifepanel. We ask these respondents either via WhatsApp (where possible), SMS or by an actual phone call. Ideally, we utilize all three modes of contact to increase the panel recruitment rate.



The Lifepanel marketplace model

We do not require any personal data or the actual phone numbers that you have contacted but just the Lifepanel ID. By doing this, no personal data is transferred between you as the fieldwork agency and us as the panel provider.

On our end, we will flag the respondents that came from your fieldwork with your unique source ID which allows you to run 2 follow-up interviews with these specific respondents.


What is the Lifepanel ID?

The Lifepanel ID is a unique ID that we attach to every single RDD number that we deliver to our clients for CATI fieldwork. Based on the consent of the respondent, the Lifepanel ID can be parsed back to us so that we can invite the panel member to become part of Lifepanel.


The LifepanelID: The unique identifier for each RDD sample record

The advantage of the Lifepanel ID is the fact that no personal data is transferred back between the CATI fieldwork partner and us as the phone number becomes PII once it has been dialled and disposition codes or other info has been collected.

The Lifepanel ID is a one-way hash meaning it is almost impossible to retrieve the phone number from the has value itself.


Does that mean the CATI fieldwork for NatRep studies will become obsolete?

Back when we launched Sample Solutions in 2010, there was already the question of how long CATI would last. And here we are in 2023 and CATI is still around, though it has shifted. The shift will continue in the next years, NatRep waves will not be run exclusively on CATI but will be added with online probability interviews.

The recruitment of these online probability interviews to a large extent will still be conducted via CATI (next to ABS). That means that there will be a continuous need for CATI recruitment and panel replenishment. Apart from that it will be essential to calibrate data that is derived from probability panels with the data derived from CATI interviews.

Together with our partners, we plan to transition to mixed-mode probability-based interviews – feel free to reach out for details on how your fieldwork agency can benefit from Lifepanel.




Carsten Broich
Carsten Broich
Carsten is the founder of Sample Solutions and Lifepanel with over a decade of sampling and social research experience. A trained aerospace engineer who discovered his love for random phone numbers.