Annie Pettit

With nearly 50 speakers taking the floor to discuss mobile research, every single attendee at today’s Market Research in the Mobile World conference was sure to leave with at least one new idea or a rethink of an old idea.

Mobile research has been around for at least 15 years even though only the last few years have actually presented us with the capabilities that researchers have been dreaming of for the last 40 years. Mobile research used to mean slapping a telephone or online survey onto a mobile phone regardless of whether the survey suited the phone. Long grids, long questions, long surveys and more made users and responders dread the mobile survey. Now, thanks to massive advances in smartphones, mobile research means not just the stand-by text surveys, but also photos of in-store shopping, videos of trying on jeans that don’t fit well, gps tracking as people drive convoluted routes from store to store to store to avoid left turns and tricky roads. And of course, don’t forget about research games that people can play on their phones while they wait for the bus, games that might never be played if they were sitting at the office. This is the new mobile. Well, not new, but this is the now doable mobile research.

Given my background on standards committees for CASRO, ESOMAR, MRA, and MRIA, I was extremely eager to listen to the panel on mobile research standards. What better opportunity than a conference whose entire focus is mobile research. Sadly, I left disappointed. After 45 minutes into the 60 minute session, I realised that the panel hadn’t really discussed standards other than to say that standards stifle innovation. Ouch. Even when the question was directly posed to the panel “Does this mean you can’t and won’t create mobile research standards,” the answer we got was no. While one panel member was quick to say that standards are important and used (Thank you @KristinLuck), that attitude just didn’t permeate across the entire panel.

I wholeheartedly believe that there must be mobile research standards. We must have standards for people whose attitude is “If it’s not illegal, it’s fair game.” We must have standards for people who are new to the game and don’t truly understand the strengths and weaknesses of the methodology. We must have standards for users to fairly compare competitive.

So I offer this challenge to my mobile research colleagues. Open up your research filing cabinet. Pull out your research on research results. Use the lessons you learned in Kindergarten and share those results with your mobile colleagues. Develop mobile research standards. And keep on innovating the way we know you will.

Annie Pettit, PhD is the Vice President of Research Standards at Research Now and the Chief Research Officer of Conversition Strategies. She recently became the Editor-in-Chief for VUE magazine.