FEATURE10 May 2012

Mobile’s an addition, not a replacement in our iPinion

Features News

E-Rewards’ Miles Worne discusses the acquisition of mobile research specialist iPinion and its bid for a share of a market set to be worth hundreds of millions in years to come.

The acquisition was first reported here on Tuesday.

Research: How long did you spend finding a mobile company to invest in?
Miles Worne:
The process of searching for a mobile partner began in late-2011. We weren’t just looking at platforms, we were looking at the entire mobile industry and what kind of opportunities would be available if we were to pursue a long-standing partnership in the mobile space.

“We do not view mobile as a replacement. There will always be a need for traditional research methods. We want to be able to reach as many people, in as many ways as possible”

What sort of mobile capability did Research Now have prior to the iPinion acquisition?
It had launched and marketed its own smartphone application in the UK and Australia. As of this week, we are beginning to enrol our panel in the iPinion platform, and are now able to leverage the platform in other ways (via the web application).

Mobile is obviously playing a bigger role in market research – how big do you see it getting at Research Now and in the wider industry?
We see mobile as complimentary offering to online – not a quicker, cheaper offering. It allows us to reach panellists in new, more relevant ways. It allows contextually relevant answers at the ‘moment of truth’. Mobile research technology has evolved substantially over the past few years and is now scalable and reliable, so we want to help our clients to research consumers in this way, especially around shopper insights and taking advantage of mobile capabilities such as location awareness, image capture, QR code scanning, etc.

Over the past two years, mobile research has been mainly qualitative in nature – focused on recording activities and experiences within specific time periods (mystery shopping and ethnographic studies, for example). Recently, the focus has moved towards quantitative mobile data collection (such as media measurement, mobile usage analytics and geo-location tracking). I’ve seen research forecasting that the quantitative mobile research data market is expected to reach $100m in North America alone by 2014.

Global penetration of smartphones is far outpacing the deployment of dedicated internet connections. However, we do not view mobile as a replacement, but rather as a supplementary form of communication. There will always be a need for traditional research methods. We want to be able to reach as many people, in as many ways as possible.

In announcing the acquisition, the company said there would be an enhanced version of the iPinion platform released later this year. Has Research Now been involved in the development of this?
Throughout the due diligence process we worked closely with iPinion to create a product roadmap for future releases. But as with any platform, there are always some features that have been in the product vision over the entire lifecycle.

Will there be any changes to the iPinion team and leadership?
iPinion will go to market as Research Now Mobile and will be led by founder Pala Kuppusamy as CEO, with executive oversight and management by John Rothwell, president of the e-Rewards Portfolio Companies Group. Steve von Bevern, with iPinion, will be leading the operations team, and Mike Billingsley, currently VP of communities at e-Rewards will lead sales efforts.