Consumers are increasingly utilizing mobile devices in addition to (or instead of) desktops for their online activities, and therefore it is the market research industry’s responsibility to comprehensively understand how online research projects and methodologies must adapt. A highly insightful presentation on this topic, “Mobile Redefines Media, Research” was recently given by Kinesis partners’ Illuminas and Federated Sample at the ARF Re:think 2013 conference. Utilizing the Kinesis Survey platform, in conjunction with their own research assets and those of MyPoints, the Illuminas/Federated Sample team studied the escalating impact of mobile technology on media consumption and as a market research tool.
The team sought to identify insights about several challenging questions facing today’s advertising researchers. One goal was to readily identify which respondents represent the mobile audience vs. the desktop audience. Their results largely confirm what Kinesis has also found in our independent research: that smartphone respondents skew slightly younger whereas tablet and desktop respondents skew slightly older; and that for all device groups (desktop, tablet and smartphone), the device type that was used to participate in this study was reported as the “favorite” online device by the majority in each group. This is a clear indication that market researchers must enable successful survey project interaction for all major online device types, in order to support the preferences of the widest range of respondents (and therefore the most representative groups of consumers). Illuminas/Federated Sample recommended, as Kinesis has long championed, that researchers utilize a multi-mode research software platform with device detection functionality to enable surveys to display appropriately for each device group.
This is increasingly important as mobile survey taking continues to climb. According to Federated Sample data, as of January 13% of market research surveys are now being conducted on mobile devices, which represents significant growth over their figure of 6% last year. Kinesis sees substantially higher mobile rates on our platform (over 30% as of 3Q 2012), which is likely attributable to the fact that Kinesis offers the industry’s most comprehensive mobile research functionality, but Federated Sample’s data serves as confirmation that mobile device usage among all market research participants continues to swiftly rise.
The Illuminas/Federated Sample project also sought to compare incidental mobile survey participants with intentional mobile survey participants, meaning that they allowed device preference to occur naturally for the first group and specifically targeted smartphone and tablet users in the latter group. Intentional mobile users were found to use a greater variety of devices more frequently, consider themselves more “tech savvy,” and participate in social media more often than their incidental counterparts. These findings have broad implications across the market research landscape – for how respondents should be authenticated, how panels and sampling exchanges are managed, how qualitative exercises are conducted, how behavioral modeling should adapt, and for market research methods in general. Interestingly however, both groups reported fairly similar views about being exposed to advertising messages, purchasing behavior as related to ad exposure, and the desire to interact with brands via social media.
Much of the insight shared during the session confirmed Kinesis’ long held recommendations about mobile optimization for survey design, such as keeping overall survey length down and restricting answer grids to a reasonable number of options (four) to avoid problematic scaling and scrolling issues. One somewhat surprising insight had to do with the use of open-ended survey questions. Kinesis has routinely recommended sparing usage of open ends in mobile and multi-mode surveys, because typing on a smartphone screen is often more difficult than on a desktop keyboard, and could possibly affect the responses. However, the Illuminas/Federated Sample research showed very little difference in the number of characters a respondent typed, regardless of the device type and also whether they were an incidental vs. intentional mobile user. While the average desktop respondent typed 33 characters, the average intentional smartphone user typed 32 characters and the incidental smartphone user typed 31 as an open-ended response.
The Illuminas/Federated Sample study offered the ARF conference audience new data and insights that have not been provided before, and more studies of this nature would surely benefit the industry and its end clients. As mobile technology usage escalates, and more individuals consume brand information and advertising via handheld devices, market and advertising researchers must understand the behaviors, preferences, and demographics of these respondents and develop research projects accordingly.