MROCs and mobile

Earlier in the week someone sent me what I take to be a marketing piece from Communispace called "Connecting with Connected Consumers." Its purpose seems to be to describe how mobile might be used in the MROC context to add a new dimension of insight. Two things struck me about the piece.

First, they report that when it comes to mobile advertising their MROC members report ". . . a strong appetite for contact from brands, provided that contact is both solicited and relevant, and that they are able to retain some control over the cadence and nature of the interaction." It occurred to me as a read the wordsTextingShopper a second time that we probably could say something very similar about what it takes to conduct successful mobile research or, for that matter, any kind of research. It implies subtlety, creativity and treating people as individuals rather than a commodity. Well said, but I'm not sure brands or researchers have yet figured out how to do just that.

Second, in the requisite in-the-moment section of the mobile pitch they talk about "deputizing" their MROC members "to become participant observers—not just of the lives of others, but of their own lives." The words that then immediately popped into my head were "mystery shop." I confess that those are just words to me, that I've never been within spitting distance of a mystery shop project and what little I know has never impressed me.  However, in the context of an MROC it somehow seems more interesting. I'm not a mobile evangelist who believes that mobile will soon become a dominant methodology, but I have always felt that there are some really cool niche applications where mobile can add a lot of value. The MROC context seems to provide just that kind of opportunity.

Balancing risk and reward in survey incentives

The current issue of Survey Practice has an interesting little piece on the use of lottery incentives in online surveys. (Here I quickly point out that the correct terminology should be "sweepstakes" since there are legal issues around anyone but governmental entities running lotteries, but let's not get distracted by that.) In self-administered surveys like online the right incentive can have a significant impact on response rate. We all would like to pay an attractive incentive contingent on completion, but money always is an issue. Sweepstakes have long been a favorite of clients looking to boost response without spending a lot of money. My recollection of the literature on this topic is that sweepstakes are better than no incentive at all, but nowhere near as effective as paying everyone who completes.

The article describes an experiment to answer a question that I get asked all the time: is it better to offer one big prize or several smaller prizes? If I have $1000 to spend will I get more bang from that as a single prize or as four $250 prizes or even 10 $100 prizes. The answer from this particular research is the standard answer to virtually all methodological questions: it depends. The authors argue that the key is the economic circumstances of the target respondents. Professionals, who presumably are reasonably well off, respond at a higher rate when a single large prize is offered. Students, on the other hand, are more persuaded by the greater odds of winning a smaller amount of money.

This makes a lot of sense to me. I am embarrassed that I never figured it out on my own.