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Why Getting Mobile Right is NOT Easy



Marketers are always being urged to “get mobile right,” and of course it’s just common sense, given mobile devices’ rise to utter dominance. But getting mobile right is easier said than done. After all, we’re only ten years into the Smartphone Era that began with the first iPhones in 2007. It’s wrong to assume that businesses can easily process the challenges and opportunities that come with new information and communications technology that puts them — and the consumer — a tap or two away from a universe of shopping and marketing opportunities that would have been unimaginable a scant decade-and-a-half ago. Any sweeping technological change that takes virtually complete charge of how we all live needs time to sink in and get right. It took nearly 30 years to go from the first commercial dial-up internet service to the introduction of iOS and Android mobile wireless operating systems. The takeaway is that if you’re still not sure how to get mobile right, it doesn’t mean you’re dreadfully behind the curve. 


The advertising industry has been especially concerned about how to get mobile right. There’s still widespread uncertainty and anxiety over how to determine whether a particular digital ad really works. In the most recent issue of the Advertising Research Foundation’s Journal of Advertising Research, two comScore executives examine the state of ad measurement in an article titled “Are You Using the Right Mobile Advertising Metrics?”


The authors, Gian M. Fulgoni, cofounder and CEO of comScore, and Andrew Lipman, the company’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Insights, write that relying on how frequently consumers click on a digital ad is an example of “murky mobile metrics.” Among other insights, they argue that audience reach should be a key metric for mobile, especially as it compares to ads viewed on desktops. They cite comScore’s own research to quantify the extent and efficacy of that reach. Among their findings:


Measured by viewing time, mobile claims 75% of Facebook’s audience, 69% of YouTube’s, and 99% for Instagram.


In a comScore study of 14 advertising campaigns in 2016, mobile ads had a nearly 10-point advantage over desktop ads in reaching the brands’ target audiences.


Campaigns that devoted more than 10% of their impressions to mobile had a 10-point advantage over campaigns that invested in television alone.


Another article in the same edition of the Journal, by Kristin Stewart, an assistant professor of marketing at California State University, San Marcos, and Isabella Cunningham, professor of Communication at the University of Texas, Austin, also treats the momentum toward mobile advertising as a given, driven by mobile’s reach.


“As the frequency of consumers’ interaction with…platforms changes…so should the distribution of advertising dollars. Platforms’ allocation typically has lagged behind platform usage.”


Again, that lag time is understandable amid dizzying and comprehensive change in how consumers and brands access each other. Getting it right requires signposts and proven best practices that are still being developed. But some things never change. In advertising, the enduring imperative is to hone messages that work, regardless of platform or medium. And so the constant challenge and opportunity presented by sweeping change goes on.


With the need for mobile learning in mind, MFour is offering a GreenBook webinar on how brands can maximize their campaigns’ effectiveness on social media before the campaign begins — by using an innovative new method called Social Ad Testing. Powered by new technology and an app-based survey panel, it tests ads in the natural environments in which they’ll need to succeed: the actual social media news feeds of the brand’s target audience. The webinar, “Mobile Ad Testing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube Feeds,” begins Thursday, Dec. 14 at 2 p.m. Eastern, hosted by a trio of operations and solutions experts from MFour. To sign up (and get a leg up on getting mobile advertising right), just click here.




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Webinar: How To Test Social Media Ads For Success


Brands are spending nearly $20 billion a year – and rising fast – to reach U.S. consumers with social media advertising. It’s obviously crucial for their ads to succeed with mobile consumers on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. But will a given ad even be noticed when it appears in targeted recipients’ news feeds, competing with friends, family, entertainment and all the other attention-grabbers social media presents?


There’s a huge advantage in getting a reliable read on the answer before a high-stakes mobile social media campaign has even begun. A new ad-testing approach that lets advertisers obtain timely data on an ad’s likely performance is the focus of a GreenBook webinar this Thursday (Dec. 14) at 2 p.m. Eastern time. Attendees will get a clear, concise introduction to Social Ad Testing, an innovative research method that gives advertisers a pre-launch sneak preview of how their messages will fare in the natural wilds of social media. The webinar, entitled “Mobile Ad Testing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube Feeds,” will introduce you and your team to research capabilities and processes you haven’t encountered before. You’ll come away with a working understanding of how to maximize your social campaigns’ odds for success, by observing in advance their actual, real-world impact on research panelists who match the profiles of your most likely consumers. Social Ad Testing is NOT just a simulation.


Learn about new technology that sends planned social media ads into test panelists’ natural news feeds, to obtain insights into whether the concepts and creative content will really work.


Get acquainted with test methodology that allows advertisers to measure recipients’ behavioral interactions with an ad they don’t know to be a test, and then take the test a step further by obtaining qualitative survey feedback about why the ad works – or doesn’t.


See how comparative testing can tell you which social platform gives your ad the best chance to have its intended impact.


Understand the key opportunity Social Ad Testing affords: launching with confidence, and perhaps investing more intensively, when an ad tests well – and getting just-in-time second chances to make specific, pre-launch fixes when test ads underperform.


Your guides from MFour Mobile Research are Research Manager Michael Schmall, along with Director of Sales Alex Colao and Chief Revenue Officer Mike Gaffney, who’ll walk you through Social Ad Testing’s specific features and uses.


Register Now! Just click here.

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8 Ways Mobile GeoLocation Connects You to Fresher, Faster Data



Judging the effectiveness of packaging is as much a staple of consumer research as breakfast cereal is in household pantries. And an ideal way to evaluate whether a cereal box or any other product’s packaging is grabbing shoppers’ eyes is to accompany them into the store and ask. In the past that required sending a researcher to stand at shoppers’ shoulders to observe and ask questions. Today it can be done by reaching shoppers on the smartphones they carry everywhere to answer questions while they’re right there in the cereal aisle – or any aisle relevant to a brand or a product. Here’s how:


Members of a proprietary consumer panel keep their phones’ location feature on so they can receive location-specific surveys they take with an advanced mobile research app.


You can talk to natural cereal shoppers who’ve been GeoLocated as they enter a store.


Each GeoLocated panelist will get a push notification; those who respond and say that cereal is on their shopping list will qualify for the survey.


Ask away – and don’t forget to exploit smartphones’ multimedia capabilities to see the cereal aisle and its offerings through the shopper’s eyes, and hear what they think and feel in-the-moment by asking them to record video selfies.


 GeoLocation also identifies when shoppers are leaving a store. You can hold off until then to push a survey to find and interview the natural buyers who are relevant to your study.


  Mobile-app survey response rates for after-visit questionnaires are typically 25% within an hour and 50% in a day or two. Asking about a fresh-in-mind experience counteracts memory bias and yields the most trustworthy data about behaviors, attitudes and emotions.


 Photos of  products on shelves or of cash register receipts provide firm validation of respondents’ authenticity and their data’s accuracy.


Trace shoppers’ paths beyond the moment of purchase by fielding a follow-up survey. Ask validated buyers whether and why they enjoyed the product – or didn’t. And get insights into what makes them want to buy it again – or not.


For an in-depth conversation about how mobile-app surveys can address your specific projects’ requirements and get you the quality, validated data you need, just get in touch by clicking here.

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time To Save Time with Mobile DIY


“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” is a musical refrain you’ll be hearing quite a bit in the coming weeks. True as the song’s cheerful message may be for most people during the holidays, it’s easy for December to turn into the most hectic time of the year. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a job or a work environment that slows to a comfortably accommodating speed during December, the holiday season can turn into a double-dose of demands on your time and energy, as getting your work done competes with the need to shop and prepare for family celebrations. Another famous musical refrain, courtesy of Simon & Garfunkel, says, “slow down, you go too fast.” But good luck with that.


The challenge of too much happening too soon has been framed by Dr. Stephanie Brown, a Bay Area psychologist and author of “Speed: Facing Our Addiction to Fast and Faster.” Here are some of her key observations about the consequences of increasingly hectic living, both at work and in private life:


“The need to be efficient and instant leads to a dumbing down of information intake.”


“Constant notifications and incessant pinging conditions us to look forward to the next e-mail, the next text, fueling an agitated inner state.”


“People become scanners…cruising…across the screen to pick up bytes, rather than delving toward a deeper understanding.”


“The link between speed and success is continually reinforced by American culture.”


But the right technology, properly used, can buy us time and relieve some of our work-induced stress. In consumer research, that technology includes advances in do-it-yourself survey creation and fielding. MFour’s contribution to the cause is MFourDIY® – a platform that lets you automate the process, from designing to programming to fielding and receiving your data. Among other features, you can essentially put a sequence of similar projects, such as tracking studies, on automatic pilot, dropping in new questions or tweaking others as needed, but otherwise just pushing a button.


Access all the complex targeting and programming options you need in an intuitive, simple to use format, including complex quotas and logic and piping.


Conduct in-store and after-visit exit studies powered by mobile GeoLocation.


Tap into the multimedia capabilities of mobile panelists’ smartphones, including obtaining  “video selfie” responses for particularly vivid insights that let you fulfill the storytelling imperative to “show, don’t tell.”


Get real-time support and hands-on data cleaning from an in-house staff.


Of course you’re busy, but If you can spare a few minutes to learn more, don’t be surprised if you come away with the tools to save hours of labor that you can instead devote to all those other December demands. Or to kicking back and enjoying the moment. To set up a productive conversation about how mobile DIY studies can meet your projects’  specific needs, just get in touch by clicking here.



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For 66% of Marketing Execs, Getting Quality Data Is a Tough Challenge


A Forbes Insights study of more than 500 senior marketing executives worldwide attests to the continuing difficulty of understanding consumers well enough to form insights that lead to smart business decisions.


66% of respondents said obtaining the quality they need is one of the three toughest challenges surrounding consumer data. 42% pointed to quantity as a chief data concern.


Among retailers, 76% cited data quality as a top challenge, with 32% citing quantity.


–  Marketers for brands and manufacturers appear to be more confident than their counterparts in retail when it comes to the quality of the data they obtain. Among brand marketers in the survey, 48% cited quality as a leading data challenge, compared to the 76% of retailers.


61% of the brand marketers surveyed cited not getting sufficient quantity as a chief data concern; most of the marketing executives for retailers were not greatly concerned about data quantity, with 42% citing it as a top-three concern.


  Among marketing executives in the U.S. and U.K., more than 80% said the hardest phase of the consumer journey to understand is the “evaluation” stage, in which shoppers are comparing products and brands as they decide what to buy.


 Overall, only 60% of retailers’ marketing executives surveyed said they were confident they’ve been “very successful” at deriving valuable insights from their data; for brands and manufacturers, 85% were confident they were getting the actionable insights they needed.


The dominance of smartphones as a key consumer technology for product evaluation and, increasingly, for purchase, makes them a key part of the equation for data and insights. Advanced mobile-app research technology, paired with a rapidly responsive and representative consumer panel, is the solution to many of the data-quality anxieties that the study by Forbes Insights  identified. This unique combination of mobile research technology and engaged survey-takers who use it can bring you the “who” and the “why” – the qualities that are fundamental to a reliably useful understanding of consumers, thoughts, emotions and actions. To learn more about how mobile-app research can meet your projects’ specific needs for quality data, just get in touch by clicking here.

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Learn How Mobile Research Lets You “Trust, But Verify”


Nowadays it’s getting harder to trust information, and that puts all the more pressure on verification for anyone who needs to deal in facts – not least brand executives whose decisions are directly reflected in bottom lines. The fundamentals that shape consumers’ responses to their worlds have shifted radically over the past ten years. Every hand that isn’t holding a smartphone has one in reach, and that creates a new, high-risk, high-reward landscape for consumer research. In other words, there’s a new application for the old-fashioned advice popularized by Ronald Reagan: “Trust, but verify.”


Here’s a ledger of some of the most important risks to valid, trustworthy data, followed by brief statements of corrective actions made possible by mobile-app research technology that attracts today’s smartphone-centric consumers.


Risk: Not meeting consumers where they want to be met. Research that doesn’t reach out via smartphones disregards the fact that about 80% of U.S. adults have them, and that consumers in the prime 18- to 54-year-old range use their phones two to three hours a day, on average (per eMarketer). Data derived from a narrowing segment of desktop users will be too thinly-based to trust. Panel erosion is the fundamental first failure that sets research off on the wrong track, compounding errors beyond any hope of correction and trustworthiness.


Corrective: Mobile-app research tools not only let researchers connect with the mobile public, but remove performance roadblocks such as slow downloads and dropped signals that frustrated users will encounter when a survey is housed online instead of embedding instantly into panelists’ phones. Happy survey-takers are more engaged, a requisite for accurate, trustworthy data.


Risk: Poor survey functionality that compromises data. Instead of capturing emotions provoked by products and experiences, a badly functioning survey on mobile will capture respondents’ frustration with the process itself. The responses aren’t valid reflections of their reality.


Corrective: Technology that meets consumers’ expectations of speed and smoothness when using their phones. Their emotions toward the process itself won’t color the data with frustration or alienation. A reliable research process leads to trustworthy outcomes.


Risk: Outright fraud and response duplication. Conducting research online puts you in a danger zone where fraud schemes are an acknowledged, but often hard-to-detect problem. There’s real anxiety in the industry over how sophisticated survey-robots increasingly can mimic human survey responses.


Corrective: Mobile devices have built-in advantages, starting with unique device IDs that prevent duplication (a device with a given ID is limited to taking a survey once). They also reveal the phone’s location, for further validation. Obtaining photos or videos from respondents also validates that they’ve actually had an experience – for example, images of store aisles, products, and receipts that are specific to the study.


Risk: Race-to-the-bottom, price-cutting panel providers who give you what you pay for. At a basement price, the research provider won’t take pains to consistently implement effective measures to monitor studies, detect anomalies, and reject poor-quality responses.


Corrective: A conscientious commitment to service and quality. It takes effort and will, and it makes all the difference when it comes to obtaining data you can trust because you know it’s been systematically and painstakingly scrutinized and validated.


For a productive conversation about how to obtain verified mobile data you can trust to power the insights you need, just get in touch by clicking here.

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A Cyber Monday Question: Do Shoppers Resist 1-Day Limits?


Welcome back from your long weekend of feasting and earlyish shopping. Now, if you’re like many Americans, you’re considering whether to pounce on today’s Cyber Monday deals. But, since you’re an insights professional or a brand marketer, you also have your antenna up for information about how holiday shoppers are thinking and acting.


Nielsen’s VP for Consumer Insights, Jordan Rost, says his company’s research suggests that Cyber Monday shopping actually had its “peak day” last year (an estimate from Adobe put sales at $3.45 billion for 2016, up 12% from 2015). Going forward, Rost said, limiting the best prices to a single must-shop day “goes against what consumers are looking for” –  the freedom to shop when and where they choose, online or in-store, without sacrificing pricing advantages. 


That means holiday season retailers need to do it all, all the time – and not just online. Consumers, Rost tells us, also want to “get that store experience that complements what we’re able to buy online…throughout the rest of the holiday season.”


Now, with smartphones fundamental to shoppers’ journeys both online and in-store, researchers have unprecedented opportunities to reach them in-the-moment on their indispensable mobile devices.


Timeliness: Mobile GeoLocation studies let you intercept validated panelists as they enter and exit a store. You can interview them in the very act of shopping, or just after they’ve left the store.


Data Quality: Mobile data validation is ironclad, thanks to mobile devices’ location function and photo capability. Seeing is believing – just ask respondents to snap pictures of products, store shelves or purchase receipts, and you have your proof of their purchases and of their presence in the places relevant to your project.


Fast Action: Insights come fast enough to inform brands’ ability to take timely action on issues such as product placement and verifying compliance with display agreements. Retailers can identify issues shoppers are having, and make on-the-fly improvements to the shopping experience.


For a productive conversation about how mobile-app research can address your projects’ specific needs, whether for the holiday season or longer term, including  mobile integration into tracking studies, just get in touch by clicking here.

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How To Talk Turkey With Consumers Before They’re Done Digesting


It’s the time of year when everybody’s talking turkey, and every grocery and a great many restaurants are still selling them. In the spirit of the holiday, the U.S. Census Bureau has provided some timely data on the turkey phenomenon. The turkey (Meleagris gallopavois is its official scientific name), is more popular, and populous, than ever. There are two-thirds as many of them in the U.S. as there are homo sapiens, and as of 2016 the turkey population was growing 6 to 7 times more rapidly than the  human population.


 According to the Census Bureau, the nation’s turkey population reached 244 million in 2016, up 4.5% from the year before.


The human population in 2016 was 323 million, up 0.7%  from the previous year.


Never mind a chicken in every pot – there could be two turkeys in every household if those 244 million were apportioned equally among the nation’s 118.9 million dwellings.


Despite the proliferation of domestic turkeys, the U.S. runs a trade deficit in the birds – importing $25.8 million in live turkeys in 2016, while exports ran to about $12 million, for a $13.7 million deficit. 99.9% of those imported gobblers came from Canada, and 0.1% from France. The French word for turkey is “dinde,” by the way.


 America was home to approximately 66,000 grocery stores in 2016, as well as 3,500 baked goods stores to help supply the desserts that many feasters will be too stuffed to consume – but will probably consume them anyway.


 Faced with preparing all those Thanksgiving feasts, U.S. households are well-equipped: according to 2011 estimates, 98.6% of them had a gas or electric stove.


 Leftovers shouldn’t be a problem, since 96.8% of homes had a microwave.


Talking turkey with turkey consumers isn’t a problem either. About 80% of adult Americans have smartphones, and mobile research is fast enough to gain insights before all that food has even been fully digested. White meat or dark meat? Home-cooked or prepared elsewhere for pickup or delivery? Tolerance for leftovers: how many additional turkey meals do you think you can you stand? What do you plan to serve or eat for Christmas dinner? Turkey again? All you have to do is think of what to ask, then field it to a U.S. panel of more than 1.3 million active members who are fully engaged with their phones and ready to gobble up your questions and feed you back accurate, validated, hand-cleaned data.


Here’s wishing a sweet, tasty and blessed Thanksgiving to all. And remember, to talk turkey about how mobile-app research can get you quick-hit data faster than it takes to roast a royal-sized Tom, with a 25% response rate in an hour and up to 50% in a day, just get in touch by clicking here.

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Take This Expert Advice on Data Quality & Validation


Ron Sellers of Grey Matter continues to fight the good fight for data accuracy and reliability. His most recent article for GreenBook is especially worth reading, because it’s not just a litany of complaints, but gives readers specific advice on how to weed out suspect data and obtain quality that’s validated and accurately represents consumer reality.


“This takes a lot more than digital fingerprinting or pre-programmed algorithms,” Seller writes. “Usually, it requires going line-by-line through the data to find and remove problem respondents.” Without that attention to detail, he warns, “frankly, they just miss a lot.”


We don’t think anyone will go wrong by taking Ron Sellers’ constructive criticism and sensible advice to heart. To read his article, click here.


And for a productive conversation about how mobile-app research meets the quality challenge to fulfill your projects’ specific needs, just click here.