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Mobile vs. Online – An Insight into the Future of Research

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As reinstated by the Greenbook Blog, the market research industry is currently divided into two camps: the ‘early adopters’ who are sensing a great opportunity with mobile market research and the ‘traditional market researchers’ who predominantly see problems in new survey methods. However, mobile research is a further powerful means to an end and can contribute in many disciplines, not just as a competitor to the current methods but also as a member of the team.

It is a natural evolution of an industry that is plagued by a snail’s-pace of innovation. Just as online was resisted in its formative years, mobile has experienced the same neglect, but the tide has begun to turn. The benefits received from this multi-functional channel with increased utility, reach, speed, engagement and validation will transcend quantitative, qualitative and behavioural research.

Bounce Insights Mobile Vs Online Infographic

Growing Importance of Mobile

The gap is widening between panel companies that do and do not use mobile to conduct research and data collection. Those that ‘do’ offer cost and time efficiencies that their competitors cannot match. Fast turnarounds from a responsive app-using sample mean their clients get more for the number of panellists they pay for: the sample to quota ratio is lower and fielding times are pleasingly short. They can also offer fresher, more interesting question types and response capture methods e.g. video and audio uploads, location tracking and passive metering.

Panel companies were once gauged by the size of their sample, but this asset is being gradually undermined by declining participation rates. The measure of a good panel company is shifting more towards the degree of engagement and participation from a sample, rather than the size of the pool from which a sample can be drawn. Without a mobile solution to stimulate that engagement, the researchers’ fight for a respondent’s attention will be lost soon.

Mobile vs. Online Research

For online researchers, the glory days of sky high results, large samples and low distribution costs are gone. Since the use of mobile devices has outstripped desktop devices, the industry has been forced to adapt to a new generation of mobile-centric consumers.

Both online and mobile research methodologies are superior to traditional methods due to their scale, provided organic user experience and data validation mechanisms are in place. But, how do they compete with each other? Twentify delivers a clear, concise comparison between the present and the future of market research:

  • Online is reliable; mobile is more reliable: Due to the background data of each user on the platform, online and mobile platforms are reliable. However, since mobile market research platforms provide instant photo/video capturing ability and extend answers with location data, mobile market research platforms are more reliable.
  • Mobile is in-the-moment, on-the-ground: One of the most critical things in market research is asking questions to consumers/shoppers at the right time, in the right place. Since smartphones are always with consumers/shoppers and provide location data, mobile market research platforms can collect data from the right audience, at the right time, in the right place. There is no latency between the experience and submission.
  • Duplication control is smarter on mobile: User duplication is one of the weakest areas of online and mobile market research methodologies. Online platforms prevent user duplication fraud via two-factor authentication. Along with this, mobile platforms also can monitor devices to identify users with duplication, increasing validation and the quality of respondents.
  • Behaviour extends mobile’s reach: Online research is not real-time, but people share their experience after the experience is over, and some time passed. Mobile, on the other hand, can trigger research to the audience according to their behaviour (location, shopping) which allows mobile to have data with a higher-quality, and richer data.
  • Mobile push notifications beat email at engagement: Email open rates are between ~20% to ~25% and click rates are ~2.75%. On the other hand, the average opt-in rate in mobile for push notifications is ~35%, and click rates are ~10%. Email is not real-time, but mobile push notifications are real-time, and if designed contextually, their conversion rates are higher. This means push notifications alone are enough for almost 4X engagement, with results being delivered instantaneously.

The Future is Mobile

The writing is on the wall, and mobile is not just here to stay, it’s here to transform an industry. It has the ability to re-connect researchers and consumers, proven by the dramatic increase in survey participation rates in recent years via mobile apps. 

In addition, the future is likely to see mobile qualitative and behavioural functionality overtake traditional solutions, which will open the door for smarter insights thanks to some key differences from online:

  • Mobile is an immediate and quasi-omnipresent medium that offers the ability to deliver the pictures, reactions, words of experiences as they happen. Often meaningful moments occur when the researcher isn’t present – mobile can help overcome that.
  • Mobile qualitative can profit from this by adopting what revelation describes as “immersive online qualitative”. It encompasses three core dimensions that help understand behaviour:
    • Contexts: where are you? Who are you with?
    • Behaviour: what are you doing?
    • Emotion: how do you feel?
  • Mobile takes researchers into areas – the shopping aisle, the kitchen, the pub or restaurant – where they traditionally haven’t been, and where memory often plays tricks when respondents relate based on memory.
  • The method also allows a social and contextual component to be built in more easily – responses are given with the sense of place, occasion, atmosphere, and to what extent other people were part of an experience.
  • As part of the modern researchers’ multi-modal armory, mobile research seems invaluable – relatively quick, authentic, cost-effective.

If you’re a researcher that doesn’t have a mobile strategy for the future, it’s time to change that.

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