Mobile Qual IdeaStream-style


A report published in Business Insider in December 2013 suggests that “One In Every 5 People In The World Own A Smartphone, One In Every 17 Own A Tablet”. This puts pressure on researchers to find new and better ways to engage participants on those devices and means they can now truly understand global markets that were previously unreachable.

Taking Dub’s device-agnostic research platform (IdeaStream™) as an example, smartphones can be used to support many different qualitative research techniques.

  • Most smartphone users regularly access their email on their phones. In fact, “51% of emails are opened on mobile”.  This negates the need to text them, while still providing instant access to your participants.  Notifications, probes and reminders reach them wherever they are, keeping the researcher at close quarters night and day.
  • Mobile devices provide the ability for researchers to be in-the-moment with participants, literally looking over their shoulder no matter what the location or time of day. Photos, video and text-based responses can be captured anywhere, anytime. This removes the reliance on recall which can often be inaccurate and deliver bad data. You can now see what happens as it happens, and get the full context of the moment – who the participant is with, where they are, what they are doing etc.
  • The ease of sharing pictures and videos via their devices is key to participants.  Dub’s software lets participants upload media quickly and easily via the browser. Participants immediately begin their engagement with the moderator or other participants (community members), then return later to provide reflective thought and more in-depth response via their tablet or laptop if called for.
  • Dub’s software is available through any device with an internet connection, so it’s not limited to just Apple and Android devices and thus doesn’t skew the data. Also, because their is no app to download and no passive data collection, participants don’t have to be concerned about privacy. They simply point their phone to the same URL they’d use on their desktop/laptop and get going.  (Also, apps drain smartphone batteries which irk participants, browsers don’t!)
  • Dub’s web-based software gives participants a consistent experience across all devices and screens – desktop, laptop, mobile or tablets. They can always participate on the device they are most comfortable on or that have with them at that moment.  This makes it more convenient, provides for more candour in their responses and helps foster the best research environment. In turn, this delivers better quality data and helps you make better decisions.


Another behavior we have observed is that participants use mobile for research the same way they use it in their own personal lives. For example, participants are likely to be more comfortable capturing video of themselves on their phones than on a webcam because they do a lot more of it on their social networks. Ask someone how often they’ve made and shared a video on their PC or laptop and you’ll probably get the answer ‘never’.

Some research conducted on mobile devices relies heavily on text/SMS as a way of managing notifications and capturing response. At Dub we feel this approach gives a more truncated and shorthand response that lacks richness. The richness provided by multimedia is a key element of any great research community, though. However, text/SMS response is ideal for emerging markets where smartphone penetration is still relatively low.

Summarizing, Dub’s device-agnostic software makes it possible to:

  • Manage all participants in one place. Respondents create usernames and avatars while researchers can apply specific groupings (such as demographic or psychographic) for assigning specific activities or filtering reporting.

  • Easily manage participants via a powerful back-end, complete with dashboards and community management tools such as bulk communications, notifications and auto-alerts.

  • Quickly and easily access and manipulate/filter the data captured from a mobile device or any other device or PC in one place – the Admin Centre.


Many in our industry have been slow to adopt mobile qualitative research due to the belief that the data might be skewed since not everyone uses smartphones or tablets. We believe that for the targets we generally interested in engaging with, it is not an issue as they are already using smartphones and tablets in their day to day lives. It is important though to recognize any technical limitations your target consumers might have and craft activities that make sense to them.