User engagement with mobile data collection apps: A new set of concerns

Michael Link, Jennie Lai and Trent Buskirk
The Nielsen Company


We provide one of the first detailed assessments of smartphone applications as potential replacements for more traditional survey methods. Smartphone applications (or "apps") provide researchers with a range of ready-made tools to collect both customary and new forms of data in a more reliable manner than self-reports, such as location, visual data, barcode scanning, in the moment surveys, and the like. Yet unlike traditional surveys, respondents have greater experience with and expectations of smartphone apps, such as ease of use, speed, and functionality. Researchers need, therefore, to pay more attention to user engagement. Techniques such as "gamification" (the application of sociological and psychological principles that drive successful game interaction to measurement) and "social sharing" (allowing respondents to interact with others during the course of measurement) are two examples, which have only recently begun to be applied to data collection.