What Facebook’s Q3 metrics mean for Mobile Ethnography


If you’re thinking of integrating a Mobile Ethnographic Research platform into your Qualitative Research toolkit or layering it on top of your existing research methodologies, then the following metrics from Facebook’s Q3 results should make for compelling reading:

Daily active users (DAUs) – DAUs were 1.18 billion on average for September 2016, an increase of 17% year-over-year.

Mobile DAUs – Mobile DAUs were 1.09 billion on average for September 2016, an increase of 22% year-over-year. (This equates to 92% of all DAUs being on mobile devices)

Monthly active users (MAUs) – MAUs were 1.79 billion as of September 30, 2016, an increase of 16% year-over-year.

Mobile MAUs – Mobile MAUs were 1.66 billion as of September 30, 2016, an increase of 20% year-over-year.

Their Monthly Active User (MAU) number of 1.79 billion. So every day, 66% of the number of users who use it every month use it once or more times a day.

Or, to put it another way, of total the 3.6 billion internet users worldwide who have access to the internet, 30% of them are using Facebook, ON MOBILE, every day.


These metrics are staggering with respect to our addiction to and daily usage of mobile.

We’re on our mobiles constantly from morning to evening. We bring our mobiles everywhere with us. Across all demographics, mobile has become an core component of our daily lives.

Facebook usage over mobile has reached a point now where mobile data caps are actually starting to impact on its growth of video over mobile. Hence Facebook’s dampening of investor expectations while it figures out new solutions to push more ads through its mobile pipe.

Facebook has hit an infrastructural ceiling now with respect to data and this suggests they will need to start looking at new ways to deliver free data to its user base. Although the recent satellite explosion was a big set back, it shows us how big Facebook are thinking and how committed they are to getting the planet onto mobile ASAP.

With a laser focused guy like Zuck at the helm, we don’t doubt their ability to execute.

What does all of this mean for Mobile Ethnography?

If you’re still not sure about integrating Mobile Ethnography into your research toolkit, read on.

We’re living our lives through our mobile devices now. Some reports suggest we tap our phones more than 2,500 times per day.

The vast majority of the respondents that researchers need to engage and understand now are mobile first and the best way to reach them is via mobile.

Facebook’s metrics confirm this: 92% of all Daily Active Users are using Facebook on their mobile devices.

Furthermore, Facebook and Google literally own the mobile ad market now, so if you, on behalf of your clients need to understand what their customers are consuming on a daily basis, the reality is that a study of social influence via Facebook has to form part of your research.

When you factor in the userbases of other platforms such as WeChat, Weibo, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram etc the number of mobile ready respondents is even higher.

If you’re relying on desktop based platforms in your research, the chances are you are now disrupting your respondent’s daily routine rather than becoming part of it.

To align your research with your respondents’ lives and routines and be able to understand what they really think and do in-the-moment, you have to do what Zuckerberg has done: you have to go mobile first.

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