If your mobile research strategy is really screwed up, it might stem from believing the myth of the small screen. It was once thought that smartphone screens were ill-suited to consumer research because they’re too small to engage mobile survey respondents and elicit accurate reliable data. These smartphone denialists say it’s better to stick to online studies geared to desktops and laptops – sizeable screens that supposedly provide a better user experience.
There’s plenty of real-world data that busts this particular hot air balloon – with one caveat: like TV’s Mythbusters, contradicting a myth takes lots of experimental ingenuity to properly put it to the test.
Recent earnings reports suggest that Google, no stranger to technical ingenuity, is also busy exploding the small-screen myth. Which is only natural, given that Google’s phenomenal success stems in large part from satisfying the public’s enthusiasm for – make that the public’s insistence on – accessing all kinds of content on smartphones.
- Forbes predicts that Google’s advertising revenue from mobile searches will reach $29 billion in 2017 – 26.6% higher than the $22.9 billion expected from Googling on personal computers.
- The New York Times reports that Google commands more than 90% of search revenue from mobile devices.
- And here’s a big reason why: “On smaller mobile displays, Google’s ads occupy a large portion of the screen – making it more likely a user will click on them.”
That last item says it all: the right kind of display on a smartphone screen doesn’t alienate. It engages. And it motivates interaction.
Smartphone surveys are a sequence of mobile interactions. As respondents move through shifting screen displays to receive and answer questions, smooth function is essential; so is an elegant display that’s clear and simple enough to command full engagement. And this leads us to another mobile myth that needs busting: the notion that all mobile is created equal.
Mobile research technology is not a commodity. It is not a generic, undifferentiated, one-size-fits-all utility. Rather than give you a step-by-step explanation, here are the two essential questions you should ask of any supplier of mobile survey technology and mobile panel:
- “Will my survey be fielded with a native app that makes it truly mobile, or is the process you’re selling only adapting online methodology to a smaller screen?”
- “Do your mobile surveys require a connection between the phone and the web?”
If the answer to both is that you’re getting an in-app process that loads the entire survey into a phone and requires no further web connection – then you’re buying glitch-free, true-mobile research and a fully-engaged panel.
But if the answer is a product tied to the mobile web, you’re buying all the hazards that go with smartphone web connections, including respondents losing connections in dead zones, and watching question downloads slow to a crawl. You’ll be buying a real risk that survey-takers will tune out at the first sign of a delay. Now your more mobile-savvy competitors will be laughing as they outflank you.
Google makes no such mistake. Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, told the New York Times that beautifully functioning content such as its YouTube, Maps, and Google Play assets constitute “prime time in the mobile era.”
If you want prime time mobile research, the best way to get started is with MFourDIY™ – the only in-app, true-mobile do-it-yourself survey-building tool. You’ll see for yourself how mobile myths get busted – and you’ll stop screwing up your research and deliver more vivid results. For full details, just click here.