Mobile ads fall short in UK

28 July 2011

LONDON: A majority of smartphone users in the UK have a negative view of the advertising they are exposed to via this channel, new figures show.

YouGov, the research firm, surveyed 2,082 adults owning devices like Apple's iPhone or alternative handsets powered by Google's Android operating system.

It reported that 79% of respondents agreed ads, delivered through the mobile web or applications, are intrusive.

By contrast, just 5% of interviewees thought these commercial messages were a "good idea", according to the study.

Furthermore, 88% of contributors generally ignored advertising contained within applications, and 86% employed an equivalent strategy on the wireless web.

Response rates are also low, as a modest 6% of those polled had clicked on a marketing link in a text message, the same rating as from emails read on their phone.

Totals fell to 4% when discussing executions on the mobile internet, 3% for in-app communications, and 2% on instant messaging sites.

Elsewhere, the analysis revealed only 3% of the smartphone audience had bought a product after being exposed to ads in a "trusted text", reaching just 1% for advertising witnessed while utilising an application.

For 27% of the sample, mobile ads would be more appealing if they provided deals and special offers, and 21% adopted a similar view where marketing efforts were personally relevant.

In all, 46% of iPhone users recalled viewing mobile ads in the last three months, hitting 42% for customers of telecoms network O2, and 40% for 3, another network.

More broadly, 87% of smartphone subscribers could remember previously seeing a banner ad on their mobile, standing at 80% for apps.

Recommended search links were the format which attracted the most attention, mentioned by 63% of individuals questioned, ahead of rollover banners on 51% and special offers, with 47%.

Turning to apps, sponsorship scored 45% on this measure, beating recommended links with 44% and full-screen ads appearing before applications activated, yielding 38%.

Exactly a third of participants recalled the ads placed in apps each time they used these tools, and 19% said the same concerning apps they accessed every day.

More than half of Orange, O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone customers had received unsolicited text messages from advertisers in the last three months, but this approach apparently holds little appeal among consumers.

Indeed, 53% of the survey community typically ignored and deleted such text messages.

"Marketers and media planners have not got to grips with what mobile advertising can do, and how it might be used as tactical marketing ploy, or as a wider part of the media mix," said Adele Gritten, head of media consulting at YouGov.

"Marketers need to harness the higher level of personal engagement that mobile users have with their handsets to provide them with something truly unique, relevant and interesting."

"Ad treatments must be more relevant and personal, and advertisers have to stop hoping that spam volume alone will drive response rates."

Data sourced from YouGov; additional content by Warc staff