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How Effective Are Emojis in Surveys Taken on Mobile Devices?

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).

The article explains 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, “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 include the ARF’s Chris Bacon, Frances M. Barlas and Randall K. Thomas (GfK Custom Research), and Zoe Dowling (FocusVision). They state that “traditional online response scales can take up a lot of screen real estate and, therefore, are not suitable for mobile devices.”

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

This paper is one of the most recent articulations of the ARF’s three-year old “How Advertising Works” program. It will also be presented at this year’s AAPOR conference in Denver, May 16-19.

Bacon, C., Barlas, F.M., Dowling, Z., & Thomas, R.K. (2017, December 1). How Effective Are Emojis In Surveys Taken on Mobile Devices? Journal of Advertising Research.