Using mobile Web-based research to deliver insights into the mobile-only generation: interview with On Device Research
On Device Research has generated some fascinating research into the mobile-only generation – this is the very significant proportion of mobile Web users who do not access the Web via any other device other than their cell phone. What makes this research even more interesting is that the surveys are conducted exclusively via the mobile Web. In this interview, the founder tells us more about the research and how it was conducted.
Alistair Hill, formally of research giant ComScore, founded mobile research company On Device Research in summer 2010. Since then it has set up panels of mobile users ready to answer surveys for the company’s corporate clients, in all countries in Asia and Africa, as well as the UK and US. Some details remain confidential, such as how the panels are recruited and qualified, and any incentives offered.
• Also see this Guide to m-research.
A) Questions on how On Device Research conducts mobile research
Q1. How do you conduct the research? What are the benefits of using mobile rather than email or PC Web?
On Device Research uses the mobile Internet to conduct consumer research. Using the mobile Internet allows us to gain research from the otherwise unconnected consumers. For example, in India 59 percent of mobile Internet users don’t use the desktop Internet, meaning On Device panels are asking questions to respondents who can’t be reached through online surveys.
Q2. In what countries do you conduct surveys?
We have panels in:
• all countries in Africa, with large panels in Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya and South Africa.
• all countries in Asia with large panels in China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.
• UK and US.
Q3. What is the breakdown of devices among your panelists?
In emerging markets most respondents use feature phones. For example, in a recent study in Africa, we found that only 15 percent of respondents used a smartphone and most of these were Nokia Symbian devices. In developed markets, the devices lean towards smartphones. We are also building up iPhone and Android panels.
Q4. How do you make panels representative of the mobile Web users or the country generally?
We make sure that we only ask questions of a representative sample of respondents. (Sorry, but I can’t explain how this is done for business reasons.)
Q5. How quickly can you set up a survey?
We offer a self-service interface where clients can create their own surveys, which are ready to go live in minutes.
Q6. How quickly can you set up a new country? Do you need to go to each country to organize?
We can setup in a new country in a few days and are expanding all the time, in line with client demand.
Q7. Do you ask all people you have in a country, or do you/could you target a particular demographic or operator, for example?
Respondents can be targeted by:
• demographic group, i.e. age, gender and income.
• mobile operator, device manufactures and operating system, eg. iPhone, Android, etc.
• Mobile content usage, e.g. users of mobile apps, social networkers, maps, music, etc.
Q8. How do you charge for surveys?
We charge per completed surveys, meaning research studies can fit into all budgets.
B) Questions on the mobile-only research findings
Q9. What is the ‘mobile-only’ generation? What is the significance of these figures/of this group?
The ‘mobile-only’ generation is the segment of the Internet audience who only, or primarily, use the mobile Internet and NOT the desktop Internet. The group is very significant for a number of reasons, but mainly because it is a new digital audience, i.e. this is a group that Web companies and brands have been unable to reach via the PC Web. This new generation can now download and purchase content via mobile, and do not have the alternative of downloading on PC, making it a very significant target group for music and games companies.
Q10. How significant is this group to marketers? What is the best way for marketers to target this group?
Digital marketers have never before had the ability to market to this group. They are the next frontier for Internet advertisers. Brands need to create exciting ways to get this audience to interact and transact directly on their mobile devices.
Q11. How big is this group?
We haven’t estimated the global mobile-only market; however to give you an example, in Egypt there are an estimated 10 million who use the mobile Internet, 70 percent of these don’t use the desktop Internet, therefore we conclude that 7 million Egyptians are mobile only, a very significant group.
Q12. When you do this report in a Quarter’s time should we expect the numbers to be different?
On Device Research doesn’t do forecasting, we provide data on consumer behavior.
Q13. What do you consider a mobile device? Why don’t you consider a tablet a mobile device? Or a laptop with a dongle?
We consider the mobile Internet to be accessed via a mobile phone. This is due to the difference in the types of Internet sites being accessed. Tablets access the full Web. Mobile devices are best suited to mobile-optimized sites, which need a different approach and create different business opportunities.
Q14. How does the profile of the mobile-only person differ between countries?
Mobile-only consumers have distinct characteristics, depending on which countries they come from.
• In emerging countries, such as India and Nigeria, these consumers are young (more than 70 percent under the age of 25), predominantly male and often students. Importantly these represent the emerging middle class in developing countries.
• In developed nations, such as the US, mobile-only has a different profile, with 76 percent over 25 years old and a heavy skew towards lower income groups. These consumers are late adopters who are attracted to the lower total price of going online via their mobiles.
Q15. How do you account for the fact that the profile of mobile-only user in developing and developed countries are so different? What are the implications of this? Over time do you expect this difference to increase or decrease?
The profile differs due to the economic situation in emerging and developed countries. In western countries gaining access to the PC or laptop is affordable for most, therefore the mobile-only in these countries are either those in lower income groups or late adopters who are attracted by the convenience of accessing the Web through a device that they already have in their pocket.
In emerging countries there is a very different story. A laptop is not affordable for the average consumer; however, most would love to have one and gain access freedom of information available on the Web. Many of these people already have a mobile, as it is a necessity for modern life. For a small incremental cost, they can gain access to the Internet. The market is still in the early-adopter stage: there is a close link between education and the desire to access information and services, and level of disposable income, i.e. ability to afford a Web-enabled phone.
Q16. What countries have the highest and lowest level of mobile-only folks?
See the following table:
Percentage of mobile Web users who never or infrequently use the desktop Web
Source: On Device Research (December 2010)
Survey group: 15,204
Q17. What should we read into this data? Why is Egypt the highest and why isn’t China bigger?
There are individual reasons for each country’s statistics, however there are underlying economic facts that provide momentum for the mobile-only to develop. For example in Egypt mobile data pricing is low, therefore the mobile Web has started to accelerate into the mainstream.
In China there is huge mobile Web audience, however the state has intervened to provide more access to the desktop Web, so many mobile users will also access the Web via PCs in Internet cafes, which are very common in China.
Local content and services are also key drivers – for example in India, cricket news and scores are particularly popular, while in Nigeria mobile users are hungry for football news.
Q18. Should we expect findings in countries such as South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria are representative of other African countries?
Data pricing and network speed (3G) are key drivers for growth in any country. These differ between African countries, influencing uptake of the mobile Internet.
The mobile-only generation:
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