Introduction to Mobile Ethnography
Mobile ethnography is a really valuable tool for studying people in their cultural settings. This is because it provides an in-context view of their behaviours, rituals, language and interactions.
Participants are asked to self-record their behaviours, experiences, thoughts and feelings about specific topics or task using their smartphone.
It is also known as smartphone ethnography, smartphone qualitative, or qualitative research at scale.
If you’re looking to understand what it is and how you can use it, we would recommend reading our introduction to mobile ethnography.
However, if you’re now looking to find the right platform to run your own mobile ethnography from, then you’ve come to the right place.
This list covers 10 tools that can help. It won’t be exhaustive, and the list is continuing to grow, but it’s a good place to start.
Indeemo is an app-based platform that specialises in mobile ethnography. It is used by consumer brands & healthcare providers alike to better understand their consumers and patients.
It allows researchers to design flexible tasks for respondents, using a broad range of features. Participants can share video, images or text and screen record, enabling omnichannel journey studies. Additionally, researchers can interact with participants in the moment with comments and push notifications, which can be sent from the moderator app.
Indeemo allows researchers to run multiple studies concurrently and is available in 10 languages. It also enables multiple qualitative research methodologies and offers enterprise grade security.
For analysis, the platform features a Researcher Dashboard, which aggregates and organises uploads from respondents, using filters and search tools. It offers automated video transcription, keyword analysis and coding tools to save time on analysis. The dashboard can be shared with clients, colleagues, and recruiters.
Finally, Indeemo also offers concierge support which provides expert guidance, strategy, training and support to help you on your way.
For more information from Indeemo, you can check out their webinar: Researching Omnichannel User Journeys with Mobile Ethnography
QualSights is a platform for remote video observation, interviews and focus groups.
The software has a broad range of flexible features. It can capture video or images from any camera (smartphones, computers, wearables, video kiosks, and more). It uses machine learning to transcribe audio; generate keywords and topics; apply sentiment and emotion analysis; and recognise objects and scenes in videos.
The platform allows researchers to interact with consumers remotely while they are in-home, in-store or anywhere in between. This gathers in-the-moment feedback and witnesses their actions through video without influencing behaviour.
QualSights enables researchers to quickly recruit targeted consumers from all over the world, supporting over 100 languages. Data is then analysed almost instantly with automated, AI-powered reports and analysis dashboards. The software also features a drag-and-drop video editor to create clips and showreels.
The platform can be used to enhance face-to-face projects and to enable customers or field staff to broadcast live.
For more information from QualSights, you can check out their webinar: No going back: how to turbo-charge agile qual research for the post COVID-19 world.
3. Field Notes
Field Notes is a platform for capturing and managing high quality, self-shot video from people around the world via their smartphones – whether it’s customers, employees, research participants, healthcare professionals or patients.
The intuitive app and platform make it simple to capture the content you need: set tasks, stimulate responses and stay on track by communicating with your contributors using in-app messaging and an online portal.
Available for iOS and Android, researchers can fully customise the look and feel of individual projects and control any content that’s shared. It’s also easy to manage large numbers of contributors and tasks. The platform is localised in nine different languages.
Furthermore, the platform offers support from their experienced team if help is needed throughout the process.
For more information from Field Notes, you can check out their webinar: Going Global via Mobile: 10 tips for international mobile ethno and video qual research.
EthOS is a mobile ethnography platform developed by ethnographer Siamack Salari for capturing authentic experiences as they happen.
The platform is made up of an app used by participants for data collection and a dashboard used by researchers for organising and analysing participant entries.
The app’s user interface mimics popular chat platforms so it can fit into the everyday lives of participants. As participants complete picture and video-based tasks, moderators can probe them in-the-moment via EthOS’s live chat functionality. This allows researchers to probe more deeply into specific topics.
The dashboard used by researchers has filtering capabilities with workspaces and reports that can be set up before a project starts.
Automated transcriptions, sentiment, and tone analysis features are also available, along with template reports to speed up insight discovery.
EthOS is a full DIY tool with optional help from a team of researchers who can provide project support or manage full-service projects end-to-end.
5. Over the Shoulder (20|20)
The platform has been developed specifically for mobile research. It captures in-context behaviours, documents how consumers shop different categories and tracks activities over time.
Features include surveys, photo and video uploads, geo-location triggers and tagging, mobile screen capture and custom branding.
As participants submit their ‘moments’ they appear in a project viewing portal with features a range of reporting tools. These include automated video transcriptions, tagging capabilities, and search / sort functionality.
Managed services are available. They can support all stages of your project, from recruitment, design and project management. They also offer training to empower you to run your own analysis and develop insight stories.
dscout is a smartphone diary research tool.
Users take part in “missions” in which they capture their everyday experiences using video or images. Participants can be found from dscout’s pool of over 100K ‘scouts’ in North America and the UK, meaning that recruitment can take a matter of hours, rather than days. Alternatively, they can be recruited separately.
For analysis, the dscout platform allows results to be reviewed, tagged, transcribed, and analysed in an online portal. Quantitative frequency charts can be used to support findings. The platform also features a machine learning-based “expressiveness” tool and allows you to compile highlight reels.
They also offer Slack integration, public/private share links, or direct exports to make the findings shareable with stakeholders, clients, and colleagues.
Batterii is a smartphone platform for qualitative research, primarily for innovation, co-creation and concept testing.
Consumers provide feedback using text, images and video. Researchers can co-create with consumers, collect real-life consumer stories, gather feedback on concepts, and more.
Hundreds of pre-recruited specialist communities are available for on-demand projects; new communities can also be recruited for specific requirements. View the video responses from your communities and gain insight into consumer behaviour, trends and habits.
Results are available instantly in an online dashboard, which is designed for collaboration with colleagues. Digital sticky notes and power dots can demonstrate your team’s thoughts about ideas and opportunities.
A professional services team is also on hand to help with research design, participant recruitment and analysis / reporting of results.
8. CiviCom Thoughtlight
Key features include the ability for users to feedback using video, photo, audio, and text; geolocation; geo-fencing; and geo-triggering. Offline accessibility is also available for places where there is no data connection.
The platform can be used in combination with other qualitative research tools, such as in-depth interviews, insight communities, and focus groups. Additionally, they offer tools such as video editing, translation, and transcription, alongside ‘how-to’ guides for a variety of qual tools.
ThoughtLight® works with both iOS and Android and is a useful tool for shopper insights, audio diaries and patient journeys.
Finally, managed service support is also available to help with user recruitment, project management and data delivery.
Crowdlab is a smartphone app-based research tool, that offers a variety of qualitative and quantitative options, as well as mobile ethnography.
Features include surveys with full routing and piping; repeatable diaries and forums; photo, video and audio uploads; and community tasks such as group discussions, one-to-ones and ‘blind’ tasks.
CrowdLab offers real time dashboards for live project management tracking as well as reports with filters, tags and export options.
Managed service support is available for coding and tabulation, translation and transcription and live moderator support on foreign language discussions.
Contextmapp is a mobile research and ethnography solution for customer journey mapping, mobile diaries and co-creation projects.
The app allows participants to provide feedback, submit photos, videos and quotes, and score concepts.
Projects can be built in minutes, and the app is free to use – the only cost being for the participants.
ContextMapp offers a dashboard for analysis, which allows you to browse by participant, assignment or specific task to find the insights you’re looking for. It is also easily shared with colleagues and key stakeholders. Additionally, you can test your research design for free with real participants to ensure that the tasks work correctly.
Other platforms with Mobile Ethnography features
Other platforms also include mobile ethnography as part of a broader set of qualitative research tools including asynchronous mobile qual, insight communities, online focus groups and / or video interviews.
For more information, take a look at the Mobile Ethnography category page.
Full disclosure: some platforms in this article are Insight Platforms sponsors. The Platform Showcase page has an up-to-date list of featured sponsors.