Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Stats Abuse: Mobile TV

Just read an interesting excerpt Helen Keegan pulled from a report on Mobile TV. I don't 100% disagree with her conclusion, that mobile TV will end up being one of those functions that is 'just there' on your phone (though I doubt actual usage will match on-phone cameras, her other example).

I do, however, strongly disagree with some of the summary text of the report itself which states "The demand for consumers to watch mobile TV is there, with 65 per cent of respondents stating that they are willing to spend time watching an advert if it meant that the mobile TV or video content they consume is free or discounted".

Er, sorry? Without seeing the exact script for the interview it is impossible to say for sure which way that is wrong, but it most certainly is misleading the way it is presented here. The only interview question that can come close to a definitive answer about whether there is demand for mobile TV is "Would you watch TV on your mobile phone if it was available, easy to use and low enough cost that you didn't need to think about it?" - and even then, there would be the usual discrepancy between what people say ("Hmm, yeah I'd give it a go") and what they actually do (eg. watch once then never bother again).

Asking a question like "Would you watch a mobile TV advert if it made the mobile TV service free or cheaper?" is an entirely different kettle of fish. The interviewee will automatically assume they are in a hypothetical situation where they are already watching mobile TV, and will try to find an answer for the nice lady accordingly - given that situation, more than half would be willing to watch an advert. That is the only conclusion the question can lead to - not whether there is demand for the service, just that if someone was using it they probably wouldn't mind an advert if they saw a net cost reduction.

You have to hope the people conducting the survey knew this, else they shouldn't be conducting surveys - in which case, the only question you can ask when reading this rubbish is were they paid to 'prove' the case for mobile TV, or did some PR droid mangle the findings for a nice soundbite in the summary?