How Multiple Screens are Changing the Market Research Process

By the Editors

During a recent presentation at the 2013 Mobile Market Association’s annual event, a top executive from Google talked about how mobile usage is changing the direction that marketers need to take in structuring their measurement of success. His point was that multiple devices owned by the same person means that most people interact with brands across a range of devices. A shopper might find a store locator on her tablet, go to the store, and then pull out her smartphone to check prices. Ultimately, she may go home and buy the product online at to take advantage of a discount. This trend isn’t isolated to shopping. It also has an impact for marketers.

“We are living in a multiscreen world – we just move seamlessly from screen to screen,” said Tim Reis, who is the head of mobile and social solutions at Google, Mountain View, CA. “This access has made us smarter than we were without it.”

He then goes on to discuss how access in transforming mindsets. “It’s that access to information that’s empowering consumers,” he said. “Promotions and offers has always been part of the story.”

As marketers on the research end of the spectrum, there’s a clear takeaway: the retail experience is no longer linear. As a result, there’s an opportunity to integrate or imbed research throughout the mobile experience to get better insights into customer patterns and conversion points throughout the shopping experience.

We’ve discussed the use of QR codes at length in situ to encourage people to respond to surveys. But a variety of other creative options are emerging. Location-based technologies are an obvious choice, as a way to both market and collect market research data from customers. Simple steps can be taken to gather insights at other junctures. Short surveys can retarget customers, polls can be displayed on websites for browsers, and more.

The change here that’s worth paying close attention to is a mindset shift. If we just define conversions as a sale, then the universe of market research that matters to us is quite small. What, basically, drove you to buy? But in an increasingly complex landscape where, as Reis asserts, context is everything it’s even more important to understand the microtriggers that get people to take small actions.

What’s driving people toward your brand? How did they end up on your site? What made them decide to stay? What content are they looking at and why? How does that content map to specific steps in the buying process? Are there factors influencing the choice to buy online versus in the store? How important is the mobile experience, and what devices are they using? Do their perceptions of your mobile brand align with your “real world” brand? The list of potential data points that could turn out to be crucial is long.