Mobile Ethnography And The NBA All-Star Weekend Part 2


Recently, we partnered with our friends at the Humber RAPP program to test out in-the-moment data collection using a new mobile research application called Bounty from a company called Twentify. In Part 1 of our story, we discussed what kind of in-the-moment observations could be leveraged from this mobile ethnography and here, in Part 2, we discuss the types of audiences best suited for this type of methodology.

Who Participates in Mobile Ethnography?

While our experience with Bounty is limited to just a handful of studies, our research teams were interested to know the type of audiences that could be accessed with these kinds of research apps.

For the NBA All-Star Weekend study, we recruited n=218 participants. The data revealed the majority of participants were male (58%), and 55% fell between the ages of 25 and 34. While it’s not surprising that there were more male participants, it’s interesting to note there was only a 16% difference between males and females. There were also more city dwellers, with a higher proportion of users living in urban areas (64%) compared to suburban areas (36%).

This summary analysis fell in line with our expectations based on past examples of online recruitment—skewing male and slightly younger. Comparing the NBA All-Star Weekend to other mobile studies done through the Bounty app, the results are surprisingly similar. In other studies, over half of the participants fell in the 25-34 age group, and were urban males. These demographic profiles indicate that social recruitment is definitely an effective method for finding urban Millennials.

the potential for a mobile ethnography application such as Bounty is enormous

So What? Opportunities and Challenges of Mobile Ethnography

As the above analyses show, the potential for a mobile ethnography application such as Bounty is enormous. The amount of detailed, real-time data that it can collect allows for incredibly in-depth reporting. It is, however, not without its limitations.

Working with data always has its challenges, and mobile ethnography is not unlike any other methodology. The research team quickly identified holes in the data output that made it challenging to sort, organize and analyze some of the information. Overcoming this challenge requires creativity and preparedness to work with incomplete data; but the openness to take what you can get and digging deep enough through the information can result in some very insightful stories.

The open-ended text response interface allowed for some extremely robust responses, but also presented some contextual challenges. Working with text in itself can be tricky, especially with a methodology that is seeking responses from participants in a very organic manner; in our case, it was in-the-moment, while they were immersed in the game. As researchers, it’s useful to be aware of the context and be mindful when deciphering/coding text responses.

Despite the minor technical limitations identified, our overall assessment of the technology is extremely positive. It is important to keep in mind that when working with new apps, there is no one perfect solution, since apps like Bounty are relatively new and being utilized for a variety of purposes. As these apps continue to optimize the efficiency of their design and structure for more specific applications and the technology keeps evolving, the perspective of the researcher will also have to evolve along with it.

About Twentify

Twentify enables companies to mobilize an engaged crowd of smartphone users to collect field data and capture experiences; driving valuable insights and empowering better business decisions.   Their platform, Bounty, coupled with the power of crowdsourcing and smartphone technologies delivers accurate, in-the-moment results, quickly and cost effectively, every time.

For more information on Twentify, contact

Special thanks to our student partners at Humber College

With contributions from

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