Here are some facts about the mobile economy for market researchers to chew on, culled from Pew Research Center’s most recent report on the economics of digital media. Drawing comparisons between 2011 and 2016, Pew’s data show that advertisers have shifted their bets decisively to getting mobile right. Investments in desktop advertising dropped $5.5 billion over five years, while ads targeted to smartphones rose $45.1 billion.
Is there a lesson in this for the market researchers whose work serves the marketers who are increasingly all-in on mobile? Should researchers follow marketers’ lead and reach consumers where they really are (smartphones) instead of trying to interpret data from the increasingly unrepresentative minority who’ve stayed put on desktops? Is it OK to assume that what worked best five years ago still works today? One thing is certain: as soon as you decide to go mobile, you can catch up in a hurry once you’ve done a little research into which mobile methodology to choose.
Here are some of the key markers reported by Pew and compiled by eMarketer. They show how reality has changed, and where it’s going.
- 2011 U.S. ad spending on Desktop-Laptop, $30.4 billion; on Mobile, $1.6 billion
- 2016 ad spending on Desktop-Laptop, $24.9 billion (-18.1%)
- 2016 ad spending on Mobile, $46.7 billion (+2890%)
- Mobile share of all U.S. advertising: 1% in 2011; 24% in 2016
- Desktop/laptop share of all U.S. advertising: 19.6% in 2011, 12.8% in 2016
Clearly, the smart money has concluded that mobile is where people live. So doesn’t market research need to meet them there, too? With this in mind, here are a few pointers on how to adjust painlessly to the new research realities of the Smartphone Era.
- First, understand that market researchers have realigned before in the face of changing consumer behavior. That’s how the industry went from telephone to online surveys about 20 years ago.
- If your brand is investing heavily in mobile advertising, do some serious thinking about whether you’ll risk a fundamental misalignment between the marketing and market research functions if you don’t make the shift to mobile.
- Next, get up to speed on the state of the art in mobile research, understanding that not all approaches to mobile are equally advanced or effective. Learn about the categorical difference between the two top approaches: in-app and “mobile optimized.”
- Flurry Analytics has found that mobile users spend 92% of their time using apps to access content and carry out tasks, compared to 8% spent using a browser to connect to the mobile web.
- Because they connect respondents’ smartphones to websites to take online surveys, “mobile optimized” research is aligned with the 8% preference level instead of the 92%.
- “Mobile optimized” is prey to all the problems of the online space, including poor performance — the commonplace dropped signals and slow load-ins that alienate panelists and diminish completion rates and data quality. .
For a productive conversation about how the in-app mobile approach can align you with the new consumer reality and address your specific research needs, just get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blog bonus: for a quick and entertaining video introduction to mobile research, click here.