Does the distraction induced by mobile devices impact a respondent’s attention?
Mobile brings a world of distraction, whether these are distractions of our own making or ones that happen to us. Either way the mobile can stretch the attention of even the most dedicated survey taker. And so, we need to be careful with the balance between distraction and attention.
The marketing research industry runs on trust.
Our clients trust us to provide valuable and accurate data so they can make the insights they need and make the correct business decision. We, in turn, trust our respondents to pay attention during a survey and provide honest and accurate answers.
We will never be able to eliminate all distractions. We weren’t able to in the past and we will not be able to in the future. Distractions are a part of life and we have to understand their impact rather than fight against them.
Across a wide range of studies in different countries we have found that at least 40% of people have something going on while they are completing a survey on laptop or PC device. On smartphones and tablets this can increase by 10-20% depending on the country.
We undertook a study to deliberately distract our respondents and see how their attention was impacted. We were concerned about inviting behaviour that we don’t want from respondents; however, it was in the name of research so we continued on. It was important to understand the relationship between distraction and attention.
The study was run in LATAM in Mexico and Brazil in conjunction with Millward Brown. The study introduced different types of distraction to the respondents. For a simple 12 minute survey with multiple distractions included (and spotted by respondents) we saw that attention levels were still high. In some cases we were accused of not trusting the respondents – so the trust is still high as well.
We compared both PC and mobile respondents. There were little differences between the attention levels even though the distractions were higher for the mobile respondents. Between 30-50% of respondents had something distracting, but attention remained high.
Mobile does increase distraction, we are all aware of that. We can only ask that respondents continue to do their best. So far they continue to give their attention to surveys. We need to make sure that the distraction don’t become too loud and drown out our surveys. We need to continue to keep our survey engaging and relevant.