“We help brands to connect with the mobile consumers anywhere, any time,” says Alistair Hill (pictured), co-founder and CEO at On Device Research, a company that has been fully focused on mobile market research from day one.
Before the next Market Research in the Mobile World (MRMW) in Asia, taking place 4−7 March 2014, we took the chance to interview Alistair Hill, who runs the commercial and operational side of On Device Research, pushing forward company growth and “ensuring that we collect great quality data for our clients via the mobile Internet”, he says.
Previously a Senior Mobile Analyst at comScore and one of the first employees of M:Metrics (prior to its US$50 m sale to comScore), Alistair Hill has worked in a variety of areas, including business development, client services, and product management.
Asia Research: You will be one of the speakers at this year’s MRMW in Singapore. What do you expect from this event, and what are you most excited of to share?
Alistair Hill: We opened our office in Singapore in November last year, and growth in Asia is a big focus for our company this year. MRMW has been great for us in the past, and this year’s Singapore event promises to be excellent – there’s no better way to build relationships than meeting existing and future clients face-to-face. MRMW is perfect for that.
During the last year we’ve done some very interesting work with Millward Brown in Asia, moving their tracking studies from face-to-face to mobile, and I’m very happy to share the stage with Yee Mei Chan to discuss the findings and challenges from that.
The capabilities of mobile research in various Asian markets are still a bit of an unknown for many. For the first time, I will publicly share the capabilities of mobile sampling in some of the key Asian markets.
Asia Research: Can you share some advantages of mobile research for brand tracking studies, and the benefits compared to online research and face-to-face interviewing in Asia?
Alistair Hill: When it comes to face-to-face research, mobile has three main advantages – speed, quality, and price. Instead of taking weeks, fieldwork can be done within days, and there’s no need to recruit an army of interviewers with clipboards. The mobile approach has the added benefit of better data quality; it is self-reported so doesn’t suffer from interviewer bias.
The big advantage of mobile research over online surveys is reach – nearly everyone has a mobile phone today in Asia. Desktop Internet penetration in many Asian countries is nowhere near mobile Internet penetration, so that’s an obvious advantage over online research.
The length of a survey is often cited as a shortcoming of mobile surveys. We introduced a new approach – survey chunking – last year, which allows us to collect more in-depth answers from respondents while actually improving the data quality compared to a traditional long survey.
Asia Research: On Device Research has recently opened its first office in the region. What are some of the challenges faced by your company, and what do you expect from this move into the region?
Alistair Hill: Singapore is a great place for opening up an office. The legal issues and business culture are really straightforward. We also have the benefit of hiring a great MD for the region, which has enabled us to create a good impression straight away.
We expect great things from the region; there is much scepticism around how representative online surveys are in many Southeast Asian countries, whilst face-to-face research has large drawbacks around speed and quality. Mobile fixes both of these issues.
Asia Research: Can you give us reasons why the global (mobile) research industry should look at Asia?
Alistair Hill: Asian countries have become the drivers of the world’s economic growth and have some of the highest consumer confidence in the world. This is where large brands (both Western and local/regional) will fight the next battles for the wallets of consumers.
Fast changes in the economy of the region go hand in hand with changes in consumer attitudes, brand preferences, and habits. Helping brands keep a finger on the pulse is more important than ever.
Asia Research: What countries in particular should we look at when it comes to mobile research in the next five years in Asia, and why?
Alistair Hill: It’s easy to focus on the big ones – China, India, and Indonesia – but really all countries in Asia are a great match with mobile research, as they’ve leapfrogged PCs. And for a growing percentage of the population, mobile is the main – and more and more the only – way to go online.
This makes it an incredibly attractive method of reaching people to understand more about their daily lives.
If I had to list five countries, then we as a business are focused on India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Asia Research: Thank you for this interview.
Market Research in the Mobile World is back in Asia for the eleventh international conference taking place 4−7 March 2014. The event is trusted by over 3000 visitors worldwide.
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