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The REAL Mobile Opportunity

Sometimes it seems like the future of quantitiative mobile research has already been determined.

onlinemobilesurvey- Real-short surveys, 5 to 10 questions long.
- Simple-response controls like big radio buttons.
- Small screens = small tasks = limited data sets.

At a time when clients, budgets and timelines are demanding that we do more with less, mobile quant would seem to do a pretty good job with the "less" part of things. If we're being honest that makes us primary researchers a little nervous, and prone to think of mobile as an interesting but ultimately niche methodology.

 

The change is a comin'

But I'd wager that the current definition of "short" and "simple" will change over time as more consumers come to live fully mobile lives, and mobile devices become an increasingly "best" way to reach people for feedback. Conventional wisdom says ask only 5 to 10 questions and use the simplest of instructions, but how can that be the end of the story when people - right now - are browsing, shopping, and buying on their Smartphones?

It won't be the end, and in fact we're well beyond the beginning. Outfits like Thumbspeak, SurveySwipe, and others are doing fantastic work adapting increasingly complex questions to the variety of mobile platforms with app- and HTML5-driven solutions, and I know from talking to folks at TMRE that more and more will come on the development front. We'll be doing a lot with the content of mobile surveys, very soon.

Meanwhile the continuing Bayesian revolution in market research will benefit us all in the other direction - allowing us to generate powerful analyses and insights while gathering less information from any given respondent.

Mobile can lead the way to better research in general

Put these two streams of innovation together and you can see the REAL mobile opportunity for market research - more complex but still quite user-friendly (and shorter than typical) surveys combined with potent analytic techniques.

Because once we've figured out ways to collect less data and do more with those data, why wouldn't we apply these same lessons to online, and just maybe turn back the clock to a time when survey experiences weren't mind numbing and results so often thought of as questionable?

Mobile need not stay a niche methodology for long, and in fact the operational constraints it presents make it a crucible from which better research - in general - will emerge. It's happening now, and will only keep happening in the future as mobile lives become typical lives. Best to get on now, fire up your Bunsen burner, and see what better ways you can cook up to move this field forward.

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