Editors’ Note:

The Advertising Research Foundation’s ongoing How Advertising Works program combines original experiments with outside research. Launched in 2015, the program intends to offer practical guidance for improving advertising effectiveness across media and across platforms. The latest investigations led by Advertising Research Foundation Executive Researcher Christopher Bacon focused on the quality of survey research on mobile devices, which consumers increasingly are using to respond to online surveys. Specifically, the authors explored the use of symbols (emojis) as an alternative to text in the design of mobile surveys to keep respondents from abandoning the survey and to improve user experience. In the pages that follow, the authors explain the historical precedent for using symbols as communication devices, the importance of mobile-survey design using symbols, and the implication for data quality and effective survey design going forward.