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  • Writer's pictureMMR Research Associates


The availability of technology, and the continuous innovations in the tech industry over the past two decades, has impacted how we as researchers reach out to respondents. With internet, webcam, and mobile all readily available, we are also seeing tech change how respondents complete surveys, especially in the number of survey takers who choose to use their mobile devices – an area we have seen steadily increase across different industries, audiences and sample types. The shift consumers have made to smaller screens has dictated that we now respond as an industry and think mobile first – adapting to device accessibility and preference – when designing surveys.

At the recent UGA MMR Summit, Patricia Houston, VP – Clients Relationships at MMR, previewed what she believes is the “next big thing” in technology that will impact the research industry. She was joined by fellow UGA MMR alumni Wendy Rosen, Senior Manager, Consumer Insights at Cox Communications, and Greg Boortz, Research Manager at Cox Automotive. Below is a recap from their presentation.

Not necessarily “new” …

While mobile-first design principles are now commonplace in research design, the next technology-enabled shift in how we design and report research will have us all thinking…Video First.

Using video isn’t new, especially in the qualitative space. What’s changed is that consumers have grown more comfortable with video usage, and so we are now able to gather quality video responses at scale.

However, creating good UX isn’t easy… if we’re thinking Video First, the priority is the experience, both for the respondent and for your stakeholders.

Putting the respondent and the stakeholder first takes us out of our comfort zone. It’s natural to design based on what’s easy for us, not for the end user. But consider for a moment that many of us in our daily lives use speech-to-text recognition when sending text messages or emails. Rather than use our thumbs, isn’t it easier to respond with our voice? This same rationale applies to video responses. A Video First approach means that we have to focus on what is the easiest way for a respondent to respond, not just what’s easiest for us to analyze.

Additionally, because video is often the best way for our audience to connect with results as well, the benefits of a Video First approach to quant design can impact the entire research process, including deliverables. A visual of the respondent humanizes the results and can create empathy. Seeing respondents as they answer questions adds nuance, brings out the positives, and helps us explain complex information to our audience.

How to Think Video First

Obviously, video isn’t applicable to every project. Realistically, we recommend to our clients that they always consider video, but use it judiciously. For example, some specific situations where Video Capture and/or Reporting might be relevant include:

– when a detailed response is desired, but the response will be too much for a person to type;

– when you want to ask qual questions in a quant setting, or when you need to “see” something in use;

– when you want high impact in reported results;

– when results will be shared with a broader team; or

– when voice-over and visuals help bring the story together.

To pick the right partner(s) for your needs, consider how will the videos be captured during the survey? Who will QC the videos? Where will the videos be hosted? Do you need transcripts or coding? Will you do the analysis myself, or do you need help? Do you need a professional video or just clips? Careful thought in advance with help keep your expectations reasonable. There are many strong tech partners in this space – ranging from a la carte to full service – that can help make your process easy.

Key Learnings

Integrating VOE questions into a survey is a straightforward process that can humanize research results. At MMR, we have some key learnings that are important to review when planning for video capture/reporting.

Participation: Not everyone has a webcam, nor is everyone willing to record themselves, so be careful forcing a video response and consider instead offering a both a text and video response option. People who do agree do not seem to be self- conscious and usually share more information than those who respond in text OEs.

Survey Design: VOEs do add more time to the interview than typical open ends. Remember in the survey questions to provide more guidance than usual to respondents, i.e. What specifically do you think about X? Why do you say that? Try to explain in 30 seconds why. This will help elicit more relevant, concise responses. Also, be specific in your ask – decide which scenarios/situations would be optimal to capture before you start the project (e.g. not just footage of consumer sitting on their couch talking to the respondent or them walking around the house, but video of them actually using the product).

Tips to Improve Video Response Quality: Ask respondents to have the lights on in the room – video with invisible people cannot be used. Nor can you use “low talkers” so ask respondents to speak clearly and loudly.


Envision a future where we meet respondents where they are, not where we need them to be. If we researchers take the same approach as marketers, we’re not going to just focus on a single channel. So let’s make it easier to respond to our need for information by providing options. How? Think Video First.

If we act as the respondents’ advocate, and make it easy for them to tell their stories, they will help us create deliverables that drive action. By using video judiciously – always considering, but not forcing – we can deliver richer, more impactful results.

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