Could You Be Gathering More Insights from First-Party Mobile Data?

Given the ubiquity of mobile devices, it’s not surprising that most companies are using mobile to conduct part of their research. In fact, according to the Q3-Q4 2017 GRIT report survey, 74% of respondents reported that they used mobile surveys in their market research.

I suspect, however, that a far smaller percentage of those mobile surveys take advantage of the full range of insights available through first-party mobile data – because these capabilities are evolving at a relatively fast pace, especially compared to other research channels. Today, mobile first-party data brings you a range of research capabilities you have never before been able to utilize.

Of course, to take advantage of these emerging capabilities, it’s important to understand them and comprehend what they promise. As mobile device manufacturers continue to pack increasingly sophisticated features and tools into their products, we are able to leverage these tools to advance and enhance primary data collection in ways that are unique to the mobile channel. In my view, this evolution has proceeded in three phases:

  • Mobile 1.0 was the foundational period in the use of mobile devices, when we first began to adapt surveys to the smaller screen, and explore the kinds of experiences they could probe, for example, questions relating to a visit to a specific location.
  • Mobile 2.0 saw the first uses of the unique capabilities of mobile devices to uncover “in-the-moment insights” – using geo-fencing to present a survey at the moment a participating consumer reached a particular location, for example.
  • Mobile 3.0 is the current state of the art in mobile research, and makes more extensive use of the sensors built into mobile devices beyond the GPS, such as the biometric sensors, microphone, camera, and accelerometer, to directly measure how consumers interact with products within their natural environments.

The new possibilities for research insights that Mobile 3.0 has introduced are supported by custom apps, created expressly for research, that enable participants to upload videos, photos, barcode scans and other data. Respondents can now actively participate in non-survey activities – photographing an appealing product display, for example – that seamlessly add layers of data and insights to conventional survey research.

These are not theoretical capabilities. They are already being applied in real-world consumer research – for example, in “product missions” that capture in-the-moment responses as consumers shop for a particular product, or bring it home and begin to interact with it.

More advances are coming as these apps continue to evolve. One such improvement is app-based data collection that will record participants’ behavior and activities. You will be able to compare self-reported responses with passively collected data, for example, or integrate ad exposure data.

All these new capabilities are dependent on consumers actively participating in the research process, by downloading the research app and activating sensors as requested. For that reason, a strong first-party relationship with these consumers is absolutely essential to gain the kinds of new insights that mobile research can provide – something to bear in mind as you explore how your company can benefit from first-party mobile data.