NEW YORK: Nearly one in three consumers respond to online surveys on smartphones, and using tools like emojis could boost engagement without hurting data quality, according to a paper in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

An article published in the most recent edition of JAR explained that “research has demonstrated that [mobile] survey break-offs often are twice the proportion of participation break-offs on a desktop or laptop device”.

Moreover, How Effective Are Emojis in Surveys Taken on Mobile Devices? Data-Quality Implications and the Potential to Improve Mobile-Survey Engagement and Experience notes: “Completion times for surveys taken on smartphones also have been found to be significantly longer, which has been associated with a higher rate of break-offs.”

Authors Chris Bacon (Advertising Research Foundation), Frances M. Barlas and Randall K. Thomas (GfK Custom Research), and Zoe Dowling (FocusVision) stated that “traditional online response scales can take up a lot of screen real estate and, therefore, are not suitable for mobile devices”.

To discover the means to a more satisfactory mobile-research end, the authors conducted two studies that explored the effectiveness of emojis “as alternatives to more traditional, semantically labeled response scales”.

One of their broad-brush findings: “Using emojis in the response scale, when combined with shorter survey lengths, reduced respondent drop-off rates, improved respondent satisfaction, and provided comparable data.”

But, the four authors also cautioned: “Certain pairings of emoji response options with sensitive question text can lead to respondent uncertainty or discomfort, with consequent poorer data quality.

“A mobile-first survey, designed with shorter questions and shorter response formats, however, can lead to shorter interview lengths and, as a result, help reduce respondent break-offs significantly from current industry norms across all devices.”

The paper “How Effective Are Emojis in Surveys Taken on Mobile Devices?” is one of the most recent articulations of the ARF’s three-year old “How Advertising Works” programme.

Sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by WARC staff