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Watching the Watchers: Mobile Ethno Throws a Super Bowl Party

By Bill Weylock

Sometimes it pays to be connected!

My good friend Leonard Murphy clued me in on a very interesting project that I think the whole industry should be paying attention to. This Sunday, four leading market research agencies will produce an entirely new kind of Super Bowl event: a real-time mobile ethnography study of Super Bowl watchers!

Taking to the field with a championship team, they are going to show the power of mobile qualitative to bring us “into the moment” with consumers. Survey Analytics, BrandScan 360, Beacon Research, and Hemispheres Research are joining forces on this ground breaking initiative.

CEO of Survey Analytics, Vivek Bhaskaran, explained the rationale:

We live in the Age of Social Sharing, with consumer, brands, events, news, etc… interconnected 24/7 by a vast media technology web. People already share their experiences with each other through photo, videos, text, and voice. Through our new apps and approach we’re just making it easier to share with you and me as well. Our new take on mobile ethnography just extends how they already interact into the realm of research.

The engine is the SurveySwipe mobile research platform from Survey Analytics. The SurveySwipe panel and ad hoc Super Bowl invitees will use their mobiles to describe and photograph their real-time Super Bowl experience. Where and how are they watching the game? What brands are in the living room and on the kitchen counters? What’s their favorite commercial or even what part? Responses will be analyzed in real time with a summary of findings and key samples of photographic content published on Monday. A deeper dive analysis will be released later in the week.

Leonard Murphy, CEO of BrandScan 360 says,

What we are going to show marketers is the power of mobile ethnography using today’s technology and an open channel to consumers. We want to make it fun and rewarding and engage with consumers as people, not test subjects. Given the right opportunities and the ability to share on their own terms, consumers are happy to give unprecedented insights into their motivations and behaviors. We believe mobile ethnography is a way to achieve an entirely new level of encounter at very low cost and unsurpassed efficiency.

Renowned qualitative agencies Beacon Research and Hemispheres Research are designing the study and will conduct the analysis.

Kristin Schwitzer of Beacon Research, who is an ardent explorer of new qualitative techniques including mobile ethnography, is excited about creating a new opportunity to show what mobile ethnography can deliver:

We’re in the middle of a technological and social revolution powered by mobile communications. To explore and understand this brave new world of multi-tasking and multi-channeling, researchers are gravitating toward ethnographic methodologies. Those two trends clearly are converging in the Super Bowl project. We have the design, and we can’t wait to dig into the data on Sunday and share the findings with the world.

This was echoed by David Bauer of Hemispheres Research:

We believe that the techniques that researchers have masterfully employed for many years are being co-opted and commoditized. Researchers must evolve as fast as society and technology. The evolution is not just the emergence of new tools but of new social behaviors. Consumers engaging in real-time social networking via their mobile devices are changing values, needs and behaviors. This project is a dynamic approach to understanding the new dynamic.

I for one am immensely interested to see how this plays out. The opportunity to engage with consumers in such a radically different way from other methods is very exciting. I recognize that mobile ethnography has been around for a while as a technique, but to my knowledge the combination of social networking, best-in-class mobile platforms, a high-profile media event, and a focus on understanding a few key elements on the interplay between these factors has not been done previously.

This will be a lot of fun to observe as it unfolds!

To download the SurveySwipe app so you can be a participant too, or for additional questions about mobile ethnography or the Research Super Bowl please visit the Survey Analytics page devoted to this project.

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