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Updated: Market Research in the Mobile World Module 1 & 2 by RW Connect

By Adam Warner of RW Connect. Illustrations by Betty Adamou

Welcome to the blog of Merlien and Greenbook’s conference Market Research in the Mobile World here in Amsterdam. Home to the earliest starts and longest presentation titles in the industry and a very intense schedule for day 1. I will endeavor to keep you updated as frequently as possible even working through lunch if I have to. The sacrifices I make.

Unfortunately conference chair Lenny Murphy can’t be here today, but we’re greeted with an enthusiastic opening and icebreaker by stand-in and research evergreen Ray Poynter of Vision Critical.

How Ikea Transformed Consumer Feedback with Mobile

Vivek Bhaskaran of Survey Analytics starts with a brief overview of the smartphone market. Stating that modern computing has gone into 3 dimensions; mobile, tablet and desktop. With US mobile usage continuing to trend up, the opportunity to harness the smartphones ability for instant media consumption and real time insights is key.

Mobile surveys have a particular benefit in real time insights. There are obvious flaws in recall surveys with the human memory being imperfect. However, by using mobile to turn recall surveys to immediate point of interest surveys the data can be more reliable.

After the overview Kenneth Peterson of Ipsos tagged in and went on to talk about the way IKEA harnessed these benefits with their customer satisfaction surveys. Seeing that IKEA customers have a higher than usual smart phone penetration Ipsos decided to use mobile to run the customer satisfaction surveys that had stalled for IKEA. By reducing the length of the survey, using GPS triggered surveys, and adding image capture. They created the ability to capture customer unique experiences at the time they are interacting with the brand. Which was ground breaking for IKEA. It even allowed customer issues and concerns to be addressed before the customer even left the store.

Unlocking the full potential of mobile devices as the ultimate user-centric data collection device.

Mark Beilby of Lumi Mobile was up next with a comprehensive walk through of the range of data collection tools available through mobile. Mark started with an overview of the current market. He claimed there are 6.1bn cell phones in action at the moment and mobile has transformed people’s behaviour.  In emerging markets in particular mobile transcends socio-demographic boundaries, with an 80% penetration rate in Latin America. Mark said that what we see now in the industry is a classic industrial “land-grab” in mobile at the moment as it’s potential becomes clear.

One of the key components in the rise of mobile in MR is instant collection. But you can’t use the same survey as you would online or paper as in mobile, it won’t work. It seems the amount of data you can perhaps collect in a survey is smaller but the range of data you can collect provides you with a complete set of behaviour, through self-reporting, GPS tracking and passive data collection.

Mark went on to extol the virtues of Lumi Mobile, and the ability to combine active and passive data collection providing a way to collect touch point data with much higher completion and satisfaction rates.

Measuring Mobile: focusing on disintermediation, transitions and how always-on changes user behaviour and attitudes.

Stefan Knecht of GfK nurago started with the seemingly ubiquitous overview of the mobile industry. Providing, as those before, an idea of how huge the industry is and it’s potential growth. This year we reached a tipping point with more active web enabled mobile devices than static devices and soon more people will have mobiles than access to electricity or clean water. At an event that is celebrating and exploring mobile research it seems that large parts of presentations have been set aside to try and convince us of the size and penetration of the technology.

There is no mobile web, in the same way there is no desktop web or tablet web. There is only The Web and the size of that never changes, but as the ways to consume this media change and evolve that slices of the media cake get smaller and smaller.

So many ways to consume media, how is it possible to go about researching it? According to Stefan it requires a holistic, multi-dimensional research approach. Context as always is incredibly important particularly when it comes to passive relocation data.

Mobile devices integrate and change touch points. They become the remote control of our lives, our exo-brains. Mobile is so immersed in our lives we barely notice it. Behaviours will change further, more and more devices will be connected our children won’t know anything other than smart devices.

But there are issues. The mobile eco-system is fragmented; there is a lack of standards, and an ambiguous regulatory environment that is different in each country. But as a counter to those issues and other technical challenges are its huge growth and market for ad=spend.

Understanding Gamification

RWC blogger Betty Adamou of Research Through Gaming was up next.  She was presenting a case study of RTG’s work with BBC Magazines. After so much talk and theory about gamification for research increasing respondent engagement it’s nice to come across a case study that in someway proves it, with kids in any case.

RTG was approached by the BBC Magazines in an effort to reach and survey the notoriously hard 7-10 year old market in the UK. Using a game designed bespoke for the BBC, RTG was able to collect the data from over 500 respondents in almost half the allocated field time and considering the length of this gamified survey was over 20 minutes it certainly seems to show an increase in engagement. Though it will be interesting to see how the method translates to adults.

How social, local and mobile is impacting marketing and insight organisations and how it will be used in the future to drive business impact.

After the networking break there was a roundtable discussion looking to how “SoLoMo” is changing how the industry works and it’s futures. On stage was Reineke Reitsma of Forrester, Michael Oxfeldt of the Danish Broadcasting Association and Martin Lloyd of Greenpeace.  For Greenpeace it’s all about connectivity with 19 million permission based contacts in social media globally, with the fastest growing relationships being mobile. Reineke added that particularly in emerging markets such as China and LATAM mobile is the only way forward. While Michael credits mobile with being able to provide purer insights based on the moment no recollection.

Understanding the consumer in the moment and tapping into their emotional and instinctive decision making processes.

Next up in the march of the massive titles was AJ Johnson with Brainjuicer. Who started not with an overview of the mobile market but with an overview of us. In a refreshing change Johnson started with the human brain and my favourite line of the conference so far: “We think less than we think we think”. Looking at mobile research with a behavioural economics spin Johnson states that mobile research is actually contextualised research. Allowing researchers to get a better overall view of respondents. Consumer insights was again an example, particulary the capacity for point of interest instant research.

The way you feel has a direct impact on how you behave, research still needs to catch up. But mobile presents an ideal tool to harness this.

A market research clients wish list. What is the role for mobile?  

Edward Appleton of Avery Dennison kicked off the final session of the morning looking at the thoughts of clients when it comes to mobile research.

It’s obvious that mobile is taking off and changing the way we live. Remember reading the Sunday papers? Now it’s all on tap. And clients in general are methodology agnostic but there are some key aspects that need to be addressed:

  • Speed
  • Quality
  • Cost
  • Impact in decision making

And as far as he’s concerned there are certainly some advantages with mobile as it is now. However, there are also some concerns:


  • Immediacy
  • Less recall issues
  • Shorter surveys – will benefit the industry as a whole forcing our hand.
  • Contextual richness
  • Engage younger target groups better
  • Convenience


  • Cost neutrality vs. traditional online
  • Normative data – shorter questionnaires give more positive top box scores
  • Richness of self-reported diagnostic data
  • Screen size
  • User experience
  • Questionnaire length

The golden triangle of “better, faster, cheaper” is still a key evaluative for the method and in the future with smartphones enhanced functions and the opportunity for more engaging visual ways of collecting data mobile certainly has a place. But Edward went on to make it clear that there is still a place for traditional methods and that mobile will be no silver bullet but it will be game changer.

A new approach to mobile ethnography

After lunch we kicked off with Siamack Salari of EverydayLives and Peter Harrison of Brainjuicer. Looking at how mobile can change the way we carry out ethnographic research. The usual problem with video capture of respondent behaviours is that they often choose what they want to capture and have a habit of editing their behaviour.  The old maxim comes into play: “we’re unreliable witnesses to our own behaviour”.

In an effort to combat this Brainjuicer, in a recent study, decided to use a key informer, someone connected to the respondent to act as a moderator, so in effect having the data “peer review”

In referencing the case study, looking at why people eat and drink what they do, they showed how the sister of the respondent can add extra depth and context to the data collected, even able to provide historic reasons behind consumption behaviour through the informer. This has the obvious advantage of raising further questions and reaching deeper insights,

He left us with a final word “mobile ethnography is young. Have fun and make mistakes”.

Applying mobile research to “old fashioned” research approaches.

Jan Schöttelndreier of Cluetec was up next. Cluetec have been providing mobile research hardware and software for years now. Having started with the classic Palm Pilot. They provide alternatives for the pen and paper when it comes to CAPI and mobile CAPI research projects. In Jan’s presentation he provided a few tips on what to think about in terms of hardware when as a researcher we’re ordering it for projects.

  • Look at basic requirements. These can be very different from paper and pencil in terms of time logistics and customs. For example, paper and pens are not very likely to be stopped by customs. However electronic goods have a host of surrounding issues.
  • Consider the social and economic environment – it may not be ideal to use iPad 3’s for conducting research in Mexico City.
  • Trade shows always have problems with internet connection, as do trains and hospitals, so think about whether you can record the data offline and upload at a more convenient time.
  • Don’t think paper and pencil. Mobile devices now are small powerful computers use them as such, image, video, audio, QR codes etc. Improve data quality with crosschecking and additional questions. Interview instructions can be streamlined.
  • Choose the right device, battery, screen size, weight etc. for use
  • Also very flexible, questions can change mid-project

Identify the Customer journey to purchase using mobile to track consumer touch points with a brand.

Alistair Hill of OnDevice Research looked at the results of a recent media consumption study. In particular the tracking of consumer touch points in relation to point of sale.  As we’ve heard a number of times today (and I’m sure we’ll hear it again before the end of tomorrow.) Phone penetration is huge and the majority of people have their phone on them at all times. Two key trends.

Alistar showed that the path to purchase is not a linear process. There’s a number of different aspects. With outdoor advertising providing more of influence closer to point of sale.  Strangely enough Radio advertising creates an emotional response more than any other medium but of course the number of encounters are smaller.

Ad Testing on Mobile in Emerging Markets

Pankaj Jha of Millward Brown provided an overview of the smartphone market in India and and a case study of the ad testing.

According to Pankaj, 80% of phones in India are not smart and the challenges involved in mobile research in India surround the poor infrastructure, low literacy levels as well as cost sensitivity and technical issues such as low download speeds for apps and quality of viewing on mobile devices. Once these challenges have addressed Millward Brown found the results compared well to traditional PAPI testing. With a few advantages such a user friendly interface and a quick turnaround time with data in a predefined format allowing quicker analysis.

Unravelling the mobile web: Consumers and their media consumption habits

Offering a change of pace Surag Patel presented the results of a global media consumption study rather than a method based presentation. InMobi is one of the largest independent ad management companies with 93bn ad impressions, live in 165 countries.

Some of the choice highlights were:

  • Average web user consumes 7.2 hours media a day.
  • 39% of global consumers multi-task while watching TV (UK 71% vs China 17%)
  • 59% see mobile as either their primary or exclusive means of going online. Markets like Indonesia and Kenya South Africa the top for this.
  • It’s not just early adopters that have online access via a phone, a new wave of mobile users means it’s increasingly becoming mainstream.
  • Why do they use mobile – 45% easy to use and 45% it’s always there.
  • In the UK mobile is used to alleviate boredom 39% in downtime, which presents an opp for researchers.
  • Where? 67% lying in bed (global) 47% waiting for something.
  • What: 22% social media 19% entertainment 18% playing games
  • 66% of mobile users are comfortable with mobile advertising as they with online.
  • 76% plan to use mobile commerce in the next 6 months.
  • 48% of consumers say their mobile is a significant influencing factor when making purchase decisions

Challenges on the way to a mobile panel – What are the limits and opportunity for a mobile panel.

ODC services have been carrying out research looking at mobile panels and whether they provide a true representative sample, Florian Tees shared some of those insights this afternoon.

Not surprisingly it’s younger more urban respondents who are more liable to take part in mobile panels. Respondent samples are far from representative in terms of a national or global demographic. So there is a strong need to blend mobile and traditional online panels.

Florian went on to detail some of the concerns our respondents may have in taking part in mobile panels. Concerns about loading time, privacy, costs and inappropriate timings of surveys all factor into this. But what attracts them to the panel? Relevance, appropriate timing and most of all fun.

So to summarise; online and mobile must be blended for a representative sample.

Debunking (or not) mobile research myths: It’s not about the app. It’s about the panel.

Research Now are old hands at mobile research and have been on the SMS research boat since 2004. Dominic Jarville walked us through some of the myths surrounding mobile research.

  • Respondents don’t want to take surveys on mobile phone – Not true! Research now currently run a 67% response rate on mobile phone and 6% of traffic to the website is on the mobile.
  •  Device size matters – Yes it does. But it’s often the questions and responses that need to be shorter rather than a device size issue. Too many clients want to use the same questions as an online survey. Be realistic, not one size fits all.
  •  Costs more money to complete the survey than the reward – This should not be true. The reward should be tailored to mobile and perceived as equal or greater to the cost the respondent needs incurs to complete the survey.
  •  Surveys have to be short – Of course! But most surveys should be shorter.
  •  Mobile is not representative – True. Respondents in general are slightly more affluent and urban than traditional panel representation.
  •  Mobile research is just for developed countries – As we’ve heard many times today it is not.

A Leap of Faith: Mobile Qualitative Research for 4 year olds.

The final session of the day before the delegates decamped to the Research Club was provided by Dianne Gardiner of Latitude Insights all the way from Australia. Latitude had been doing some very interesting and challenging work for Kraft and in particular the 4 year-olds perspective of Australian icon Freddo, the chocolate frog.

Dianne had harnessed smartphones for in-home ethnography, a method that would usually lead them to spending hours with the families filming their choices and reactions. By allowing the families to film themselves at certain points in the day and recording their actions and reaction it saved cost and benefited from a quick turn around time.

What they found is that by recording video in this way the children felt at home in a safe and familiar environment that provided deep insights for the client. However they found that the average consumer is not tech savvy and despite claims from providers, any platform that has to deal with a large amount of video and pictures suffers from problems with usability.

However this negatives outweigh the positives that come in multiple points of interaction, capturing true behaviour and capturing the contrasts between what consumer say they do and what they actually do.

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