Mobile Integration at Insights West

I remember, several years back, listening to a presentation about Mobile marketing and the speaker had labeled the talk “The Year of Mobile”. In the intervening years, there was significant discussion on the topic area, but no substantial breakthrough on the mobile front that would help any year achieve that label.

In 2012, it’s different—I believe that this is truly the year of the Mobile breakthrough. Why? The primary reason is simply the dramatic increase in ownership and usage of mobile devices, and the corresponding increase in marketing-friendly consumer activities on those devices. According to ComScore, the percentage of Canadians who own a Smartphone has doubled in the past year to 45%, and is even higher in BC (51%) and the Prairies (46%). Consumers are visiting websites, interacting with brands via their mobile devices, taking and sending pictures, and interacting with social media on a frequent basis. Insights West recently conducted a survey for Iamota and Telus that showed the average smartphone owner used their mobile device six times at the most recent sporting event they attended, doing things like sending photos (25% always/often), updating Facebook (21%), tweeting (13%) and emailing/texting friends (38%). I recently came across a study that showed consumers were spending more time with their mobile devices on these activities than on talking!

In terms of marketing via mobile devices, we have a long way to go. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada, less than one-half of one percent of all marketing expenditures was on mobile devices last year, and even though expenditures are expected to double, it will still be insignificant. Think of the early days of online advertising expenditures—which lagged behind TV disproportionately to consumer screen time spent —mobile is in the same category. Mobile weekly hourly usage among smartphone owners is approaching time spent on the Internet or watching TV, yet expenditures will lag behind for probably the better part of the next decade. Mobile marketing will catch up, but even with exponential increases in expenditures, it’s going to take time.

Market research companies have been brutally slow to adapt to this new phenomenon. Even in big research companies, the number of studies where the primary mechanism for collecting data is on mobile devices is less than 1%. Other research has shown that online panel survey participation via a mobile device is approaching 6-8%—but most research companies don’t even know if their surveys are being conducted on a mobile platform!

Of course, there are significant barriers to consumer participation in mobile research: data plan costs, small screens, inability to hold consumers’ attention for longer surveys, technology limitations, and a lack of know how. But that’s no excuse; the research industry needs to do a better job of integrating mobile into its offer.

At Insights West, we have incorporated mobile into every facet of what we do. First of all, we have captured mobile numbers of all our panelists in BC and Alberta. From here, we can SMS or text our panelists to remind them that a survey is ready. Our usage of the Toluna platform ensures that all surveys we conduct are mobile-optimized so they can be completed on any device. Finally, we incent our panelists to use their mobile device to capture pictures and video, which supplements our insights and our story for our clients. This level of mobile integration helps our response rates, and engages our panelists in ways that no other panel does. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information on how we can optimize your mobile surveys.

For more information, contact:
Steve Mossop
President, Insights West