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Mobile or Online? YouTube Becomes a Forum for the Great Market Research Debate

YouTube has become a forum for the important conversation about whether mobile surveys are really the answer to crucial problems facing market research, thanks to Bob Lederer of Research Business Daily Report.

In the daily video report he hosts on YouTube, Lederer pithily framed the issue by laying out the point-counterpoint discussion that has unfolded recently in Quirk’s Marketing Research Review (the segment begins at the video’s 1:43 mark).

The debate began, as Lederer noted, with Quirk’s publication of a study of Australian survey-takers that found widespread dissatisfaction with questionnaires fielded to smartphones. The study concluded that traditional online surveys taken on personal computers remained the best approach.

Lederer continued by summarizing an essay that Chris St. Hilaire, MFour’s cofounder and CEO, wrote for Quirk’s in response to the findings from Down Under. Chris urged researchers to understand that mobile survey methods are not all created equal. Ones that remain married to online methods by requiring a constant connection to the internet are doomed to the user-unfriendliness that turned off the Australian respondents. Only state-of-the-art mobile capabilities can work.

As Lederer noted, Chris emphasized that the key to great mobile research is embedding surveys instantly into respondents’ phones with the “native app” technology epitomized by MFour’s innovative Surveys on the Go®. Among other things, it eliminates the need for an uninterrupted internet connection — the Achilles heel of quasi-mobile methods that literally hung up the Australian respondents and left them bemoaning how frustrating it was to take surveys on their smartphones.

Given the right mobile technology, researchers can harness smartphones’ unique capabilities such as multimedia and GPS-enabled geolocation to acquire data that’s faster, more nuanced and more accurate than ever before. With MFour, they can tap into a million-member all-mobile panel with proven demographic diversity and fast-response engagement.

Many thanks to Bob Lederer for putting a spotlight on this crucial issue and providing a balanced summary. We’re especially grateful that he addressed what he called the “huge representativeness problem” of how to reach Millennials, Hispanics and African Americans – the smartphone-focused, desktop- and laptop-abandoning  groups that elude surveys that remain wedded to online research methods.

We’re confident that the more MR professionals become aware that mobile research is not a commodity but a rare and demanding technological art, the more they’ll realize that turning to true masters of the mobile art will guide them past the perils of dwindling, unrepresentative panels and deliver them to new heights that the most advanced all-mobile methods can reach.

There’s mobile junk and mobile treasure – and the more this discussion continues in alert, consistently relevant and future-focused forums such as the Research Business Daily Report, the sooner our industry will get to know the difference and make the right choices.