Some things I’ve learned about tablet computers

The shorter version:

Some things I’ve learned about tablet computers include:

  • Penetration remains small but is growing
  • iPads are the only tablet in town
  • They have their own niche in the media landscape
  • Tablet use is largely additive to other forms of media
  • They aren’t mainstream yet – but could be

The longer version:

Some facts and data about tablet computers that I’ve sourced (from publicly accessible information) include

  • 3.62m people in the UK now own a tablet computer, equivalent to 7.6% of the population and up from 2.8% in November 2010 (equivalent US figures put penetration at 11%)
  • The iPad represents 73% of UK sales, and 97.2% of all US tablet traffic
  • Tablets combine mobile’s portability and flexibility with computer’s power and screen real estate. However, they are most likely to be used in the living room, with 62% of iPad owners never or rarely take their devices out of home. Although they are owned by the individual, 7 in 10 owners share their device with others – most likely a partner or spouse
  • With the exception of desktop computers – at least two thirds of US tablet owners said their usage of other devices (ranging across all four screens) was either the same or had actually increased
  •  326m tablets are forecast to be sold worldwide in 2015 – more than five times the figure estimated for 2011 (63.6m)

Sources:

sk

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/doug88888/2800841720/

Mediatel Media Playground 2011

My previous blog post covered my notes on Broadcast in a Multi-Platform World, which I felt was the best session of the day. Below are my notes from the other 3 sessions (I didn’t take any notes during the bonus Olympics session)

The data debate

Chaired by Torin Douglas, Media Correspondent for the BBC

Speakers:
Andrew Bradford, VP, Client Consulting, Media at Nielsen
Sam Mikkelsen, Business Development Manager at Adalyser

Panellists:
David Brennan, Research & Strategy Director at Thinkbox
Kurt Edwards, Digital Commercial Director at Future
Nick Suckley, Managing Director at Agenda21
Bjarne Thelin, Chief Executive at BARB

Some of the issues touched upon in this debate were interesting but I felt they were dealt with too superficially (but as a researcher, I guess it is inevitably I’d say that).

David Brennan thinks we need to take more control over data and how we apply it. There is a dumb acceptance that anything created by a machine must be true and we’ve lost the ability to interrogate the data

Nick Suckley thinks the main issue is the huge productivity problem with manual manipulation of data from different sources (Google has been joined by Facebook, Twitter and the mobile platforms), but this also represents a huge opportunity. He thinks the fight is not about who owns the data, but who puts it together

Torin Douglas posited whether our history of currencies meant that we weren’t so concerned with data accuracy, since everyone had access to the same information. Bjarne Thelin unsurprisingly disagreed with this, pointing out the large investment in BARB shows the need for a credible source.

David Brennan said his 3 Es of data are exposure (buying), engagement (planning) and effectiveness (accountability)

Nick Suckley thinks people would be willing to give up information for clear benefits but most don’t realise what already is being collected on them

Kurt Edwards thinks social media is a game-changer from a planning point of view as it sends the power back to the client. There is real-time visibility, but the challenge is to not react to a few negative comments

David Brennan concurred and worried about the possibility of social media data conclusions not being supported by other channels. You need to go out of your way to augment social media data with other sources to get the fuller picture

Bjarne Thelin gave the example of BBC’s +7 viewing figures to show that not all companies are focusing purely on real-time. He also underlines the fact that inputs determine outputs and so you need to know what goes in

David Brennan concluded by saying that in the old days you knew what you were getting. Now it is overblown, with journalists confused as to what is newsworthy or significant

Social media and gaming

Chaired by Andrew Walmsley, ex i-Level

Speakers:
Adele Gritten, Head of Media Consulting at YouGov
Mark Lenel, Director and senior analyst at Gamesvison

Panellists:
Henry Arkell, Business Development Manager at Techlightenment
Pilar Barrio, Head of Social at MPG
Toby Beresford, Chair, DMA Social Media Council at DMA
Sam Stokes, Social Media Director at Punktilio

The two speakers gave a lot of statistics on gaming and social gaming, whereas the panel focused upon social media. This was a shame, as the panel could have used more variety. All panel members were extolling the benefits of social media, and so there was little to no debate.

There was discussion about the difficulty in determining the value of a fan, the privacy implications, Facebook’s domination across the web and the different ways in which social media can assist an organisation in marketing and other business functions.

Mobile advertising

Chaired by Simon Andrews, Founder of addictive!

Speaker:
Ross Williams, Associate Director at Ipsos MediaCT

Panellists:
Gary Cole, Commercial Director at O2
Tamsin Hussey, Group Account Director at Joule
Shaun Jordan, Sales Director at Blyk
Will King, Head of Product Development at Unanimis
Will Smyth, Head of Digital at OMD

Ross Williams gave an interesting case study on Ipsos’ mobi app, which tracked viewer opinion during the Oscars.

Simon Andrews’ approach to chairing the debate was in marked contrast to the previous sessions. He was less a bystander and more a provocateur – he clearly stated his opinions and asked the panel to follow-up. He was less tolerant of bland sales-speak than the previous chairs, but was also more biased in approaching the panel with the majority of panel time filled with Simon speaking to Will Smyth.

Will King things m-commerce will boost mobile like e-commerce did with digital. Near field communication will move mobile into the real world.

Gary Cole pointed out that mobile advertising is only a quarter of a percent of ad spend but that clients should think less about display advertising and of mobile as a distinct channel. Instead, mobile can amplify other platforms in a variety of ways.

Tamsin Hussey said that as there isn’t much money in mobile, there is no finance to develop a system for measuring clicks and effectiveness of all channels. Currently, it has to be done manually.

Will Smyth said the app store is the first meaningful internet experience on the mobile. The mobile is still young and there is a fundamental lack of expertise at the middle management level across the industry. Social is currently getting all the attention (“Chairman’s wife syndrome”) but mobile has plenty to offer.

sk

MRS Mobile Insights Conference

The first Mobile Insights Conference, hosted by the Market Research Society, took place in London this week. I was in attendance.

I’ve mentioned my thoughts on the word insight several times in the past. Did I take away many insights from the day? No. Were the talks useful? In parts. Was it worth attending? Yes

Although the first use of a mobile phone for research was over ten years ago, the techniques available on the devices are still in their infancy. This means we are still in the experimentation stage of understanding what can be achieved on mobile – compelling innovations and applications of research do exist, but are rare.

As such, the projects discussed over the course of the day were largely (but not exclusively) small and tactical. It would have been great to hear of any companies really embracing mobile research to inform strategy, but perhaps we haven’t yet got to this stage.

Given the relative lack of application, the day largely focused upon the mechanics of mobile research. A topic not particularly attractive to research buyers – I counted two research buyers on the delegate list alongside attendees from research agencies and suppliers (discounting speakers). While it important to collaborate as an industry, the realities of competitive advantage meant that, with the odd exception, research agencies aren’t going to be particularly candid about learnings when they are speaking to other research agencies.

Those gripes aside, I did take some several useful things from the day.

Tim Snaith, OnePoint Mobile Surveys – Defining the Future

After some opening remarks from this OnePoint colleague Neil Jessop, Tim Snaith took the floor to talk about the immediate future. Some of the points he made include:

  • “If we define mobile research in a certain way, it will be adopted in a certain way”. Instead, we should be open-minded as how people ultimately choose to engage with the mobile will define how we can engage with them
  • There is currently no knowledge base in mobile so we need to build foundations with case studies and open reports
  • Downtime on the computer is decreasing because there is so much on there to keep us busy. Mobile is now the device for downtime, creating opportunities for surveys
  • Blending computer and mobile research isn’t ideal, since the space restrictions on mobile mean you are effectively asking different questions
  • International mobile research needs to consider the different regulatory and technological requirements in each market (for instance, different networks use different character sets in SMS)

Alex Wilde, Globalpark – Tracking trends

Alex defined the four types of research that can be conducted on a mobile as a survey (e.g. invited by a banner ad), diary, storytelling (capturing stimulus) and netnography.

An issue with surveys is that there are over 3,000 combinations of mobile handset, browser, operating system and so on. Ensuring usability is therefore a challenge. Within survey design, he advocated drop down boxes rather than radio buttons, and limiting text boxes to a single line field

With regards to some of their mobile studies

  • They receive 35% of responses within the first hour (Lightspeed say they received 60% of completes in the first 15 minutes and 90% within the first hour – evidently research design will be more indicative than overall methodology trends)
  • When survey respondents were asked after a few questions if they would like to continue the survey and, if so, where; 70% of iPhone users said they would continue on their phone but 90% of non iPhone users said they would prefer to continue on their computer
  • 90% of respondents were willing to share their location via GPS

Tom Webber, Nielsen – Smartphone trends and opportunities

Tom shared several statistics with the audience:

  • Smartphone penetration in the UK grew from 12% to 20% in Q1 2010 (smartphone defined by an operating system such as iOS or Android)
  • As the prices of phones rises, long term ARPU falls (presumably this was down to unlimited data charges and the need to bundle SMS rather than charge individually?)
  • Net Promoter Scores for smartphone owners are fifteen points higher than those for featurephone owners (26 vs 11)
  • 64% of iPhone users use apps daily, compared to 52% of Android users and 38% of other phone users
  • The Apple App Store has 84% satisfaction; the Android Marketplace has 81%. Apple performs better on range of apps and download experience; Android wins on ease of browsing and discovery
  • American 13-17 year olds sent an average of 3142 texts a month in Q1 2010 (I believe this figure includes twitter and facebook updates); the figure for under 12s was 1152
  • In the US, Twitter accounts for 42% of phone messages sent; Facebook for 16% (though I believe GSMA data has Facebook far ahead in the UK, at least in terms of time spent)

Patrick Hourihan, Yahoo! – APPetite

Patrick (Disclosure: an ex Essential employee although, like in Ghostbusters, our streams never crossed) was the first speaker to give a presentation, rather than read a report, and it was probably my favourite talk of the day in terms of interesting content (if not practical application).

After some general industry statistics (such as 11m social network users via mobile, 5.7m people downloading games and 11m using mobile media for entertainment, he ran through the methodology for APPetite

  • Online diary and forum
  • Focus groups in London and Manchester
  • Depth interviews with in situ mobile usage
  • 2,000 person online survey among 16-65 year old mobile media users (done online as mobile doesn’t give the depth or the same level of representativeness)
  • Mobile app survey using Research Now’s real-time data collection tool (I think the questions were regarding which app was used, where and how it compared to online)

Things the research covered either qualitatively or quantitatively include

  • Consumer expectations have shifted from functional use to emotional use
  • Nearly as many use mobile for entertainment (58%, if you include social networking) as they do functional (63%)
  • There is a claimed decline in snacking, with longer usage sessions
  • Brands have been mapped to times of day, with the BBC, Facebook, Google and Yahoo! in use across the entire day
  • Apps have the wow factor among users, and satisfaction of services (such as Facebook) is higher for the app than the for the web (NB: This wasn’t broken down by operating system)
  • However, there is some confusion over what an app is (e.g. it could be a  shortcut to a website)
  • 55% don’t have a preference between an app and web so long as they can fulfil their specific needs
  • When a mobile service doesn’t work, 44% blame the brand, 34% the phone and 29% the network

Siamack Salari, Everydaylives – Using mobile for ethnography

Siamack’s talk was the only brazen sales pitch of the day, but it was justified since he was the only person speaking with a genuinely groundbreaking (or so it seemed to me) research technique – a mobile application where people can capture audio, video and pictures, tag it and upload it to a central server to be sorted, filtered, analysed and edited.They can comment and feedback on the information others compile.

The iPhone app cost £5,000 to develop (whereas the BlackBerry app cost around £60,000) and will allow ethnography to be conducted on a larger scale. Previously, he would film 2 hours of footage a day over several days, conduct interviews separately and then spend time editing the reams of footage.

The app come with a small price, but he is shortly going to launch a consumer version, which is free and would allow people to effectively sell their lives to willing buyers. He mentioned that, independent of this, Coca Cola and P&G approached him about fitting out their workforces with the application.

Learnings from his first four studies are

  • Not all iPhone users are familiar with iTunes, and so will need to be walked through app installation
  • A template of how to shoot video is required for a consistent quality of submissions
  • Research needs to be designed carefully to avoid it altering people’s behaviour
  • He has facilitated post-filming opt-outs, where he gives people an email address and a code, in case they want to have their privacy protected in their friends’ film

Leonie Hodge, Channel 4 and Anthony Cox, Sparkler – Using SMS to uncover drivers of viewing

As a cost effective alternative to ethnography (and allowing a greater sample), Channel 4 commissioned Sparkler to conduct research into drivers of viewing using 24 depth interviews, 9 in-home evening visits and 35 media diaries lasting for 6 days using a combination of mobile and paper.

Essentially, on days 1, 3 and 5 Sparkler would text the respondents to ask them what they were going to watch on TV that evening. They would send several messages (manually) if requiring clarification or reminding. On days 2, 4 and 6 people would fill in a standard consumption diary of what they watched the previous evening.

The research showed that there were very few appointment to view programmes (a disappointment?), and the majority of consumption was last-minute or spontaneous decision making.

Sparkler’s advise was to

  • Get the stakeholders to pilot the technique, in order to engage them with the process
  • Keep it as simple as possible for the respondent
  • Design the outputs so analysis can be as efficient as possible

AJ Johnson, Ipsos MORI – Using mobile to gain greater customer insights

AJ was the exception in that he was quite open and candid about Ipsos MORI’s various experiments with mobile research – both successes and failures. Initiatives include

  • Using mobile for passive media consumption for radio (via ambient sound recording) and posters (via GPS)
  • Quick polls for PR purposes
  • Comparisons to online research, which showed that mobile surveys took longer with shorter answers and a lower response rate, but that quality of response (recall, in this instance) was higher
  • Multimedia diaries – they invited 1,000 people to take part in recording their weekend activities. 200 agreed to take part, but only 37 provided usable material. They had asked for 4 diaries a day from people, but received an average of 2.7 per person (they tended to be photos)
  • Software they have been experimenting with includes Microsoft Pivot and The Link (unsurprisingly, I can’t find the link)

Gavin Sugden, T-Mobile – Measuring customer satisfaction via SMS

Gavin was also exceptional, in the sense that his was the only example of SMS research being used more strategically. T-Mobile changed their customer satisfaction survey from a 20 minute CATI survey to an SMS survey of around 6 questions – 3 standard questions and 3 from a battery of 15. They found SMS would be a better capture method and more cost effective than CATI, IVR or the mobile web, though Gavin didn’t seem to have a problem with privacy, saying that people could delete the messages if they didn’t want to respond (T-Mobile customers would be contacted within 24 hours of purchase in-store, web activity or phoning customer services).

With people only eligible to complete one survey in 60 days, they are seeing a 20% response rate.

They have an online reporting tool, which allows analysis of quantitative data and aut0-coding of verbatims.

They currently use the results for performance management (e.g. benchmarking stores) but are moving towards coaching and development of staff, and seeking of ways to improve customer satisfaction. They are also going to start include campaign awareness questions

Liam Corcoran, Fly Research – Insights into alcohol consumption

Liam walked us through a case study from a study he ran for Mintel, looking at alcohol consumption of young adults. Rather than hazy recollections, they used mobile research for in situ response. At 10pm each night, they would send an SMS with a link to a 7 question mobile internet survey.

He also talked a bit more generally about their mobile panel research.

  • They tend to receive 60% response rates from their panels and 20% from cold sample
  • 50% of their responses come within the hour and the vast majority within 24 hours
  • He wouldn’t recommend a mobile internet survey of more than 15 questions
  • Mobile is a great tool for a follow-up to online research, if just a couple of additional answers are needed

Sarah Sanderson and Jason Vir, Kantar Media – Integrating mobile with other research techniques

Sarah and Jason gave the last talk by going through a very recent project they ran during England’s World Cup campaign (presumably the project was ran specifically for the Conference; it must be nice to have the resources to be able to do that!)

The research was designed to access the emotional response in real-time, which they felt would be more honest and truthful

If I remember correctly, they:

  • Recruited people to the project based on answers to questions in TGI Sport+ and TGI Postscript (the TGI omnibus)
  • Got some people to take part in an online community to discuss the tournament
  • Asked these people to submit videos and pictures of them during/after the game (I think 7 people did this, I’m not sure if the community was larger)
  • Sent a WAP survey at half time to a larger sample. 207 responded, 90% of these during the half time interval

Neil Jessop closed the day with a few remarks, including a prediction that there would be more mobile surveys than online surveys. This was the one contentious comment of the day (in my opinion), and this sums up my overall feelings of the event. There were a few interesting asides and thoughts, but there was nothing at the event that really made me stop and think. A shame, but perhaps I was expecting too much.

sk

Image credit: Research-Live

Nielsen launch TV/Online convergence panel

Nielsen have announced the official launch of their convergence panel. The panel of 1,000 homes and 2,800 individuals in the United States (I presume this is a pilot sample size) will have both their TV viewing and online surfing measured. The TV viewing is captured using the official audience measurement system, with the online element recorded using Nielsen’s proprietary technology.

This is a much needed development as we seek to overcome the prevailing 20th century methods of treating activities distinctly and in silos.

(NB: I recognise that this consensus was most probably taken for practical purposes but with Touchpoints and now this I am encouraged that we are moving towards a unified and more realistic approach)

With more activity moving online, the potential for this panel is incredibly exciting. Achievable insights can include

  • Total TV viewing audiences/reach across TV, DTR and online catch-up (across all sites)
  • The precise relationship between TV viewing hours and online surfing hours
  • The effects of on-air continuities on online activity in real-time
  • The relationship between viewing a programme on TV and accessing supplementary content or information online
  • Simultaneous and solus usage. In theory, one could also see whether the frequency of visiting sites in simultaneous usage is affected as a TV programme draws to a conclusion
  • Whether certain genres are conducive to solus viewing, and others to simultaneous
  • Assuming advertising data is recorded, one can measure the call to action in prompting those exposed to the TV ads to search or purchase online
  • Cross-visiting between channels/programmes and websites

ESPN have already benefited from cross-platform research with Nielsen, with data showing that those invested into the online offering had higher levels of TV viewing. But thus far, this is only looking at one dimension of convergence.

If the panel proves to be successful, it could theoretically be extended to the entire media landscape. Digital/Internet isn’t a straightforward media in that it overlaps with everything – audio, video and text.

Could we therefore see an online panel merged with the official radio or print audience currencies? By fusing the data to a consumer lifestyle survey such as TGI, we would create a real-time, ongoing record of behaviour that goes way beyond Touchpoints’ one-time snapshot. We would be getting closer to the holy grail of media planning with cross-platform reach, frequency and (perhaps) effectiveness all attainable.

However, we shouldn’t get too excited just yet as there are several objections and obstacles to overcome

  • Mediapost notes a concern that increased data collection will put people off, making the panel more unrepresentative. This is a valid criticism, but it is equally valid to all current measurement panels. The size of the establishment survey and the length of commitment are already major deterrents. Adding a second – passive – measurement isn’t going to make much difference, in my opinion
  • Similarly, people may be more concerned with their privacy online. When I worked at a research agency, our online tracking tool didn’t record secure sites and also had an opt-out on certain behaviour. Over time, this behaviour can be modelled and factored into assumptions. While imperfect, it can become a known limitation and worked around
  • While the TV ratings are official, the online traffic numbers aren’t. There are still many problems with recording online behaviour – the long tail of websites, home vs. work vs. mobile access, bias to power users – and all these concerns will be transferred over to the convergence panel
  • Related the the above, the panel size for online measurement needs to be far greater than TV due to the multitude of niche sites (and TV-related activities online are a minority interest, albeit growing). This means the convergence panel is going to need to be much larger than the TV panel and therefore more expensive. Will it be viable?
  • And a very minor point, but as always one can get carried away with online behaviour and overlook the significant number that aren’t online (the “left behinds”). This should be avoided.

These benefits and obstacles are top-of-mind, and I’m sure they have already been considered by those involved. But as always, the proof is in the pudding and so I eagerly anticipate the data releases and word on how the panel is being used by the participating clients. A successful convergence panel can only be good news for the media industry.

sk

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmtimages/

The five questions that need to be answered about online video

I’ve recently put together a presentation deck on the state of the online video market. It consists of both the primary research that we have been conducting here, and the secondary research I have been able to source through subscription services, press releases and generous folk who put their work online – such as Ofcom and Universal McCann.

I’ve been taking the presentation around our various agency clients in order to spread the love (and of course use the face time to sell in opportunities). Thus far (touch wood) the presentation has been well received.

The general feedback I’ve been getting is that people are willing to experiment with online video, but the paucity of makes it difficult to justify a long-term investment. Any data showing the efficacy (or otherwise) of online video is therefore valuable.

Below are the five major questions regarding online video. I’ve tried to give a steer on them but currently there are no definitive answers.

1. Who is watching?

And indeed how many. This is the crucial question for agencies. With many (but not all) moving to online video from TV, the gap where BARB audience ratings should be is extremely conspicuous. Alas, JICIMS don’t have an immediate solution and so for the interim one or a combination of the below is used

  • Internal site stats. But even if they are externally validated (e.g. by ABCe) there is still the lack of transparency about whether the stats have been gamed and comparisons with other sites won’t necessarily be like for like. And of course the major problem is that it gives you numbers, but not demographics. I posted about many of the problems around online measurement here.
  • Users could be forced to register and share information before being allowed to view videos. But this contravenes the “openness” of the web
  • Comscore and Net Ratings give basic demographic details for video views and offer a competitive context. However their methodologies aren’t universally accepted. All impressions are equal – whether auto-rolls or each ad in an ad break being tagged as a separate impression
  • If none of these methods are viable, then we are forced to rely (at least partly) on survey data. And that opens up a whole new can of worms

2. Which advertising model is best?

Or, which is your favourite child?

There are a multitude of ad models and formats to choose from. I detailed many of them in a previous post here. Since writing that, I have read about two further types of ad format which add to the choice available.

Inskin Media wrap an interactive banner/border around content

MirriAd digitally incorporate brands and products into a show in post-production – whether a logo on an object, or a car driving off in the background.

Pre-rolls are the most common format (from memory, I read a stat saying two thirds of European video providers use pre-rolls), and their prevalence has driven acceptance. While people may have initially been turned off, familiarity has bred acceptance. The public generally agree that advertising is a reasonable exchange for free content.

However, not all content sites are equal. Ipsos have shown that people are less likely to find advertising reasonable on user generated content than professional. This is why I am eager to find out whether Youtube’s post-roll experiment works. Despite ads only being placed after partner content, Youtube has the stigma of UGC and I believe people will have trouble accepting ads on the site, no matter what content they are placed around.

3. How effective is my advertising?

This is the big question in all forms of media, and online is no exception. However, because audiences can’t be so easily identified, it is also a big problem. To my knowledge, there are three routes to go down

  • Pop-up/overlay advertising. We know respondents have just seen the ad (unless they are the control), but this is the downside. The questionnaire is served at the point of exposure. There is no window to allow the ad to embed into people’s consciousness.
  • Behavioural tracking. Whichever company does this first (and effectively) will become very, very rich. Obstacles include coverage (it is unlikely that all websites will participate, and even the most popular ad networks only cover a fraction of the web) and the sheer volume of data that would be generated. Analysis of longitudinal data would require a cloud/farm of Google or Amazon proportions
  • Surveys on online panels – again the can of worms of claimed, rational, after-the-fact responses among members of a panel

4. Why should I add online video to my media plan?

Indeed. But why should I add radio, or press, or cinema? Each medium brings a different audience and a different experience – if they are used in conjunction effectively then a stellar transmedia campaign can be executed.

My argument regarding online video is that it dovetails very nicely with television. Rather than cannibalising, it complements. TV has the mass reach and epoch-defining moments. Online video offers the shared experience asynchronously, allowing the attentive audience to interact on their terms. People tend to watch TV programmes online when they have missed them on TV, while short-form extras can deepen the experience (look at Heroes for example), and increase engagement among the TV-viewing audience.

For those that are interested in numbers, creating an accurate measure of incremental reach is vital. Touchpoints offers it at a platform level but isn’t granular enough for most situations. A tool that highlights incremental reach and frequency across a multitude of platforms and channels therefore needs to be developed.

5. Where is this going?

I don’t understand financial markets but I do understand the dangers of speculation. And that’s what any answer to this question would be. Forrester, emarketer and so on may predict future audiences and revenues. But who knows what the situation will be like next year, let alone in five. How long did it take Youtube to change the market? Or iPlayer/Hulu? And what effect will Kangaroo/SeeSaw have?

And as for the unified home entertainment TV/Internet experience? I’m not even going there…

sk