Digital Ethnography: 3 innovative ways to use remote interviewing to immerse oneself into target audiences’ life realities

In the recent past, many qual researchers will probably have experimented with remote live interviewing techniques such as webcam interviews or online focus groups, some maybe even for the first time. 

Demand for innovative ways to engage with audiences remotely in a live setting is on the rise. Today, we are introducing three types of individual remote live interview modes that go a bit beyond the interviewing itself. These modes benefit from the fact that webcam interviews can not only be conducted on a computer, but also with a smartphone:

1. Remote or Webcam In-home visit

Remote in-home visits are a great, little invasive method to dive into the living realities of participants. During the live webcam interview, participants can tour their homes, show relevant areas of their households such as kitchens, bathrooms, etc. and demonstrate product and appliance use, as well as personal and family routines. Being able to move around with the participants during the interview also provides the opportunity to virtually visit gardens, balconies, garages, and driveways on the participants’ premises. Such interviews are either conducted completely with participants’ smartphones or in a webcam and smartphone interview combination.

2. Webcam Shop-along

The webcam shop along is a live smartphone webcam interview immediately before, after – and under special circumstances even during – a shop visit. It provides the opportunity for the researcher to dive in real-time and close-to-live into a shopping and consumer experience situation. The interview is conducted completely with participants’ smartphones. If the interview is to be conducted in-store, the consent of the owner is usually mandatory. This is usually applicable to projects where the brand researched is the study client at the same time.

3. Webcam Co-browsing & Smartphone App testing

The webcam co-browsing is an accompanied live browser journey on the participant’s computer. Researchers can view the browser interface and actions of participants, whilst being able to see them, interact with them and see their reactions. This method is very useful to test website usability, mock-ups, and prototypes with participants with their own infrastructure in a live setting. In this mode, the interview is conducted with the participant’s computer or tablet. Increasingly popular are remote smartphone app tests in which participants use smartphone apps and app prototypes in a live remote smartphone interview. Researchers can view the smartphone interface and actions of participants, see them and interact with them during their use on their own device.

When conducted with Liveloop Lab, the advantages of classical remote IDI’s and webcam groups apply these innovative engagement modes as well: First of all, our live technical support takes care of all technical matters and ensures that these a bit more complex interviewing forms run smoothly start to finish.

The interviews are fully recorded and stored in the project platform. Observers can watch the interviews anonymously live or the recordings after the session – with or without simultaneous translation. They work across all typical age groups, can either be conducted stand-alone or as part of a community or diary project – and can be accompanied by in-meeting exercises and stimuli, workbooks, and pre-exercises.


by Zacharias de Groote

Managing Partner


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