News and Media

Understanding Google Consumers Surveys’ New ‘Global Mobile Panel’

Google Consumer Surveys (GCS) announced this week that it is creating a mobile app to become a global market research solution. That has likely brought to the market research industry a new wave of excitement, promise, anxiety, and, for some, desperation.
Now let’s consider the new Google Consumer Survey ‘Global Mobile Panel’. I realize GCS refers to it as an ‘app’ or anything but a panel, but an opted-in group of respondents willing to do surveys for rewards on their smartphone is, well, a mobile panel.
Of particular interest is how truly global will this panel be? In order to project the GCS mobile panel’s potential global reach you have to factor in a few things that significantly limit its coverage within the global population, specifically:

  • Mobile smartphone reach globally. About 17% of the global population have smartphones (Gartner, February 2013) but let’s say it will be 50% in two years.
  • Android’s market share globally, which is about 75%.
  • Android users who have access to Google’s Paid App Marketplace –  133 countries and China isn’t one of them – so about 75%.
  • People willing to download an app to do short surveys in exchange for subsidization of the small percentage of ‘apps’ that cost money, keeping in mind that Android users are notoriously less willing to pay for apps than iPhone users (let’s guess high at 5%?).
  • The number of people who will use the app regularly once they have downloaded it? A mobile panel company would be happy with 25%.

Some of that is guesswork of course, but this leaves us with a maximum hypothetical reach of about 0.35% of the global population, and a significant variation by country.
So what does this have to do with RIWI? When we explain to clients what we do we are often compared to Google Consumer Surveys, which for any organization is flattering. Google is one of, if not the most, dynamic tech companies in the world (and the most inspiring company to entrepreneurs like us); so when we were asked to co-present with Google this summer on the best practices of Nano-Surveys™ at the MRA conference in Orlando, we jumped at the chance.
RIWI’s most important selling point has been our truly global reach using our Random Domain Intercept Technology (RDIT™). This patented, award-winning (IIeX Philadelphia, 2013) platform gives us the ability to reach every country where citizens have access to the Internet. Just this week, we completed a study on Iranians’ attitudes toward US and Syrian relations, capturing over 3,000 Iranian responses within 72 hours, and have started a 60-country study in their native languages.
Our RDIT™ methodology engages people in a random way when they mistype, miss-guess, or land on a once-abandoned page while using their URL bar to navigate the Internet. According to external research from brand protection consultancies such as Fairwinds Partners, or the global IT security company, Sophos, direct navigation is so frequent as to be effectively universal among Web users (“it is almost inevitable that you will end up on an unintended website from time to time”) just as is the case among people who use the telephone and make a dialing error. Forthcoming research from RIWI (GRIT, 2013, October 2013) shows that the phenomenon is equally common in every country of the world. To calculate our potential reach in any given country, you simply multiply the Internet population X Internet usage rates. It’s a truly staggering reach when you consider that our global response rate after 10 questions is 6-10%.
RIWI has collected data in over 190 countries to date. We are device and operating system agnostic, have introduced a random element back into online data collection, and countries that limit their population’s access to the Internet have tried but failed to block our surveying. So while it is quite likely that GCS will create the world’s largest Android-based mobile panel, let’s not confuse what it means to be ‘truly global’.
– Grant Miller, VP, Innovation and Integration