A Wake Up Call For Mobile Researchers

By Greg Wester, CMO (And Former Research Analyst)

Once upon a time, I led a team of consumer interactive tech analysts at The Yankee Group. I had a simple message for them: “Our research should be geared towards the SMARTEST of our potential clients.” Twenty years later – I want to send the same message. This time, however, it’s for the mobile research industry: Forrester, IDC, Nielsen, Gartner, NPD, Ovum, Comscore, Parks Associates. Basically any firm researching consumer mobile usage – I’m talking to YOU.

The smartest of us in telecom, mobile device, and publishing industries are firmly focused on the future. The next-generation of our mobile devices is taking shape, and it includes AI, machine learning, predictive algorithms, better/smarter operating systems, all incorporated in new UI/UX. But where is the research on this? We know mobile usage is growing. We know mobile ad revenue is revenue is growing. We know what apps dominate. But all of this can, is, and will change with next-generation mobile software.

My wake up call to those companies in the mobile research sector – WHERE ARE THE INSIGHTS ON HOW NEXT-GEN MOBILE SOFTWARE IS CHANGING WINNERS AND LOSERS?

Who is working on FORWARD-LOOKING questions such as:

  • When smartphone OEMs (e.g., Samsung and Apple) build content discovery into their devices, how does it change content consumption via other apps?
  • How are Voice Assistants impacting use of, and therefore monetization of, different mobile app categories? Or specifically, how much money does IBM/Weather Channel lose because of Siri?
  • How much is the expansion of Apple News shifting content discovery and publisher monetization?
  • How many billions of ad dollars is Facebook reaping simply because of decade-old smartphone logic?
  • How is Google’s -1 Screen and Partner Tab impacting content discovery, and how big is this opportunity for carriers?
  • Can, or better yet, “when” will future device and OS enhancements eliminate the need for a wide class of apps?

All of the above new innovations – let’s call them “device-centric” because they are built into our smartphones, or call them next-generation mobile content discovery solutions because they all use new UIs and AI to change how we consume our media – are radically changing content discovery and affecting who will win when it comes to media consumption and mobile ad revenue. Consumers want content delivered to them frictionlessly –simply, easily, and with minimal “touches”. All of this is happening, yet there is little understanding or coverage on the impact!

Take, for instance, this recent report by Nielsen on Streaming Video. Kudos to Nielsen for showing how being inundated with video choice affects the consumer. It also calls out the consumer desire to have options given to them simply – minus the friction – or they will move on to something else. Where this research falls short is in quantifying how different approaches to personalization and content discovery can and are RADICALLY impacting downstream video consumption.

In its absence, here at Mobile Posse we’ve sought to find the answers ourselves – with a reasonable amount of success. The research analyst in me, however, is somewhat miffed. This sort of forward looking research should be the charter for top research firms. Yet, it’s gone virtually ignored.

Sure enough, recently I did an analyst call with one of the leading research firms I mentioned above. I shared the independent research we chartered with partners like Verto Analytics and Phoenix Marketing International that have helped us begin to look at these key issues.  I shared answers my team had developed to questions the analyst had “never even thought to ask.” Finally, at the end, the analyst finally had the “Eureka” moment I was hoping for and began to ask the important new questions our industry badly needs the answers to.

This is my wake up call to the rest of the research industry. If it takes having a call with each and every one of you – I am happy to do that. But no matter how we get there, the industry needs your help! Let’s get working on this together and help create a better mobile future for the industry and consumers alike.