Group formed to ensure ethical market research in the mobile channel

JANUARY 23, 2012 – Companies that conduct market research on consumers by monitoring some of their online behaviors and interactions with digital assets are sometimes accused of invading people’s privacy, a claim that the marketing industry takes seriously.

In part to reassure consumers that the sector respects their rights, particularly when it comes to conducting research on mobile device use, marketing professionals have teamed up to create the Mobile Market Research Association (MMRA) and address some of the concerns about privacy.

According to the group, its mission is to “unite and serve the industry in developing professional standards and ethics to advance the use of mobile devices for marketing research,” while keeping in mind the importance of ensuring sustainable growth, creating rules that drive further advancements in the industry and “[evangelizing] the mobile marketing research channel for use by clients, researchers and participants.”

The MMRA will also work to conduct research on and educate users about the channel. The idea for establishing an industry body came up after two conferences in 2011, where the founders – Mark Michelson and Jasper Lim – decided that there needed to be a “unifying body, a single voice and a place to exchange the best and most innovative of ideas” related to mobile marketing.

The group also commented that many consumers seem willing to trade their privacy in exchange for deals and discounts.

“Millions of consumers have already downloaded smartphone apps that use GPS to track their location so they can obtain discounts, coupons or cash incentives for answering a few questions about their experience when they are in specific stores,” the MMRA said. “These apps are becoming more popular every day.”

Considering how quickly consumers around the globe are embracing mobile devices, it will be useful to have a set of guiding principles as marketers discover new tactics for gaining insight on their target audiences.

BtoB magazine notes that 36 percent of adults in the United States own a smartphone, and 5 percent have a tablet, so there are millions of people who can be researched. Mobile applications are one of the ways advertisers are collecting this information, and the source points to AT&T research that found 43 percent of the top mobile marketing programs in 2012 will be centered on mobile applications. Barcodes and banner ads came in at 41 percent and 40 percent, respectively.