Mobile advertising doesn’t work so well … but why?

Lack of advertising engagementOne of the complaints marketers have had about mobile advertising is that the engagement levels are so pitifully low.

But is this really so surprising? … seeing as how clickthrough rates on online banner ads have been in the dumper for years now – well before the explosion of tablet and smartphone usage.

Helpfully, a research study conducted by Praveen Kopalle, a Dartmouth marketing professor, gives us insights as to why mobile ad engagement is so low.  Here are the reasons cited most often in that survey:

  • Mobile screens are too small – 72% of respondents cited this as a reason why they steer clear of mobile ads.
  • Too busy for ads – 70% claimed they don’t have time for ads when they’re on-the-go.
  • Can’t return easily to the content originally being viewed – 69% found this aspect irritating enough to avoid taking action on an ad.
  • Ads take too long to load – 53% cited this factor, which is clearly dependent on the type of mobile device or service available.
  • Not in the mood for ads – 42% identified this as a factor (some things never change).

Other findings in Dr. Kopalle’s survey underscore the fact that mobile advertising needs cut to the chase, because mobile device owners are generally not in “browse” mode while using them.  Consider these contrasting findings between mobile device users and people using desktop or laptop computers:

  • The typical mobile consumer is on his or her smartphone or tablet eight times a day for approximately 15 minutes per session.
  • Desktop and laptops users are more likely to be engaged only once or twice per day – but spend around two hours per session.

Moreover, when mobile devices users are performing information-seeking tasks, nearly half of them reported that ads “do not register” with them. 

The takeaway message for marketers:  In addition to targeting ads to the right audiences, the advertising messages themselves better be super-compelling, because mobile users won’t be paying attention for very long – if at all.

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