Smartphones offer ripe
opportunities to capture behavior and location data. But the speed at which the information can be processed looks to be immensely valuable.
“What happens with mobile phone tracking is we will make that data available now, nearly in real-time,” CEO Matthias Hartmann said in a keynote address Tuesday at the Advertising Research Foundation conference.
The implication for the industry as far as changing brand messaging and ramping up on reaching certain targets is expansive.
Real-time information contrasts with GfK operations, where a third of clients get weekly reports. Tokyo is the only area allowing daily reports to be generated, Hartmann said.
Hartmann said GfK is pursuing mobile phone data directly from the system operators rather than acquiring it on a device level, while respecting privacy.
As he focused on emerging markets, he emphasized not just the astounding penetration levels -- GfK predicts close to 1 billion smartphones will be sold globally this year -- but differences in behavior. For example, in developing markets, he suggested consumers are more willing to embrace new technology, such as mobile banking. (In some countries, mobile phones are embraced because landlines are either expensive or the infrastructure is insufficient, Hartmann said.)
Of course, there’s a pretty heavy connection to smartphones in developed countries, as well. GfK did a study asking Germans to give them up for two weeks to evaluate their behavior patterns, but the project was abandoned when people soon asked for the devices back.
Speaking more generally about market research, Hartmann did say that GfK believes the U.S. will remain the leading market for some time, even with all the talk about emerging markets.
“We believe by 2020, the U.S. market will be the single biggest market for market research followed by China,” he said. Looking globally, he said it is critical to use tailored research methods to understand market differences and not just apply a U.S. model. “We just cannot export things that work here."
For example, many more people in China and India find the concept of a smart TV, or Internet-connected TV, appealing than data shows those in the U.S. do. On the fashion front, data shows 60% of Brazilians are interested in their appearance compared to 35% globally.