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Monday, 30 November 2015

Smartphone-ready respondents find research industry unprepared

US— Significant numbers of respondents are reporting issues when trying to use smartphones and tablet devices to take part in online research, according to a study by EasyInsites and Cint.

Research presented at the Casro Technology Conference in New York found that anywhere between 7% and 20% of respondents in the UK, US, France, Sweden and Australia are trying to take surveys or join online panels using their smartphones or tablets.

But of these, around 54% of smartphone users and 45% of tablet users encounter problems – compared to just 20% of respondents who only use computers and laptops.

The results echo some of the findings of this year’s Annual MR Software Survey, which saw research companies making little effort to accommodate mobile platforms. Software survey author and Meaning MD Tim Macer said: “Taking a conventional web survey on a mobile device without optimising it for mobile delivery is like trying to thread a needle in the dark. Yet this is the experience that awaits most mobile survey-takers today.

“We asked research firms what approach they took with mobiles when designing online surveys. Currently, just a tiny minority make any adjustments and most, it seems, simply hope for the best. Without attention, this trend will drive down response rates.”

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Readers' comments (4)

  • There are a few other key findings worth noting in our research:

    -- Those who prefer using these newer devices to take our surveys tend to be different types of consumers (early adopters of technology, for example); therefore, if we do not include them properly, then our results will not be representative.

    -- Taking surveys on smartphones clearly increases the length of time the survey takes to complete. Yet as an industry, we provide the same incentive no matter what device is being used. So for those using smartphones, they are being underpaid from an incentive standpoint.

    -- The good news is that survey designs can successfully accommodate these newer devices by simply considering what the experience will be like for the respondent by device, automatically detecting the device being used to access the survey, and providing the correct version with adjusted question types and formatting to make the experience optimal for each device.

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  • @Charles - seems that your data may be skewed to how the research was run. If a mobile survey is properly designed for mobile, we have found in our work at and realitymine,com that we can actually speed up the survey process.

    @research - somehow people seem to be ready to ignore the fundamental shift going on. While I hear people accepting that 77% of the world's population has a mobile subscription, they say that only a small number will actually use it for research. What this research seems to point out is how tenacious people are at wanting to use mobile devices and making do. When researchers truly embrace mobile as a platform then there will be many new ways to get this data faster yet, and with higher rates of completion.

    Take, for example, GetGlue - a social application - where consumers willingly provide a very rich media consumption diary.

    Or take as another example the kind of work that is possible with passive mobile metering where we can measure an individual's use of media through a mobile, measure their exposure to broadcast media, out of home media, and even measure their emotional responses, all without having to ask questions.

    To Charle's final point - he is spot on - there is a huge opportunity for those who adapt their methodologies to fully embrace the differences of this new platform and work out how best to use it to capture data.

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  • Thanks Rolfe for your comments. Our differences in the length of time were mostly a function of the additional time it takes for those on smartphones or tablet devices to complete open ended questions. You can have a look at the different question formats at the following link, it will automatically detect the device you are using and you can feel free to access it on a variety of devices in order to see how well it can work plus the different ways in which the same question can be asked.

    Further, we have just been selected to prepare and present a paper on this same topic at the upcoming ESOMAR 3D conference in Amsterdam and have in mind doing further research to examine whether there are any data differences when changing the question format.

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  • The question becomes: is the MR industry ready for Mobile devices?

    Moving from traditional Online to tablets or smart phones with no adaptation is definetly wrong as there are different factors to be considered:
    -different respondent behavior
    -different interaction
    -limited time

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