“There’s no hiding from the algorithm!”

That’s what we learnt running countless ‘App Immersions’ over the last couple of Covid years.

App Immersions, by the way, are what we call remote depth interviews but where we can fully view what is happening on the mobile screen as we moderate. A guided app tour if you will.

What had started as a brilliant methodology to understand app user experience, ad effectiveness, and online customer journeys turned into something much more revealing… They allowed us to get know our participants in a completely new way. For example:

  • We met a Twitter user in the US who was following commentators from completely opposite sides of the political spectrum. When we delved into this, we learnt it was because the person wanted to get out of their own echo chamber and better understand the other side – and to win dinner table arguments!
  • We saw a TikTok feed chock-full of nutrition influencers. When we probed on ‘why’ we found out the primary motivation was they are worried about getting dementia later in life after their own parent had been diagnosed.
  • We saw a YouTube feed with countless comedians and not much else. The person in question had wiped their history and up their feed to get videos that made her happy. She’d gotten tired of the negative videos she’d received beforehand and was looking for levity and joy.

The social media algorithms have gotten so powerful they reveal people’s motivations, values, and needs. Being able to observe that in real time and probe on what you see is a unique opportunity for qualitative researchers.


We still use App Immersions for customer journey and ad effectiveness studies but we’re increasingly using them across our exploratory work such as segment illumination, trends exploration, or audience deep-dives.

You can check out a snippet of how App Immersions come to life here: