Understanding Consumers through Their Mobile Activity

mobile research

\"mobileA consumer’s thoughts, preferences, and desires can be determined through their online search, browse, stream and surf activity.

In the history of marketing, there has never been a more direct, intimate, and current window into the soul of consumers than their online behaviour. In Asia, ‘online’ means mobile, and therefore the smartphone is the gateway to understanding the Asian consumer. Passive metering is the aggregation of this data for research and measurement purposes. Everything a consumer does on their phone leaves a digital trail, and passive metering enables marketers to follow those trails by aggregating information about every website visited, app used, term searched, media streamed, influencer followed, and social media engaged with on monitored devices.

Harvesting marketing gold

This information is pure gold to marketers, and, like gold, its allure has encouraged many mining methods. Some nefarious means have led to public relations fiascos that can both enrage consumers and lead to huge fines.

The brand-safe approach to harvesting this data is opt-in panels of consumers, who give very conscious consent to sharing this very personal data. But this approach can be expensive, difficult, and risky.

The challenges of the traditional passive metering approach

Recruiting panels is hard enough, but the real work with passive metering panels is in compliance monitoring and retention. The traditional approach to passive metering is to gather every morsel of data from each phone, regardless of the differing tolerance levels of the consumers or their phones. The trade-off for this comprehensiveness in mobile-focused projects is phone burden in terms of battery, CPU, memory, and broadband. In emerging markets, smartphones are the lifelines, the sole connection to the grid, for many consumers. The greater the monitoring methodology’s burden on the phone, the greater the challenge and cost to panel recruitment and retention. The panel expense combined with client budget restraints leads to short-term studies with small panels, which defeats the real promise of passive metering.

Add to the panel expense the cost of licensing and integrating the survey, monitoring, and reporting technology, along with the project management and operations costs and the significant project failure risks, and it is easy to see why many brands have shied away and how this has prevented passive metering from achieving its full potential for consumer insights.

Unlocking commercial viability

The key to achieving the consumer insights passive metering enables in a commercially viable way is to monitor large panels continuously, focus data harvesting on critical data only, syndicate the data streams to lower the costs for all clients, and enable each client to meet their unique needs through custom extras like surveys targeting the exact consumer profile or mobile behaviour of interest, measuring the reach and effectiveness of specific internet, TV, radio, or OOH advertisements, or collecting and adding metadata to pictures of products, places, or life moments uploaded by participants.

The People Data Company (PDC) is helping marketers break through these barriers by providing large, continuous panels across emerging market nations, with a specific focus on mobile shopping activity in its Mobile Shopper Monitor service.

This approach allows clients to select the consumer profile they wish to analyse in increments of 500 consumers, select the specific behaviours they wish to see from which apps and sites, and pre-program surveys triggered by specific mobile actions immediately. For example, if a consumer orders a meal without a beverage, a survey can ask them why, immediately. If a consumer changes SIM cards and then streams music, a survey can ask them why they prefer that SIM for that purpose. If a consumer selects an item on one marketplace or food delivery app, a pop-up survey can ask if they would buy another item if offered a better deal.

Better, faster, cheaper insights

To address marketers’ increasing need for better, faster, cheaper insights, PDC presents both the syndicated mobile activity data and each client’s custom data like survey responses and advertisement reach measurements on interactive dashboards. These enable DIY analysis with dynamic filtering and cross-tabbing, as well as one-click print to PowerPoint and/or downloading of the raw data. Scheduled downloads of custom formatted files and API connections enable each marketer to get the data they need, when they need it, and how they need it to support their decision-making processes.

Fulfilling the potential of passive metering across SE Asia

PDC launches Mobile Shopper Monitor in October in Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Expansion will continue in other SE Asian nations before year-end.

Making passive metering more actionable for clients and less burdensome for consumers will enable this powerful technology to finally fulfil its potential effectively and economically for clients, and painlessly, transparently, and ethically for consumers.

By Greg Lipper LinkedIn, CEO, People Data Company, Inc.