When mobile ad network Todacell found performance gaps in its multinational campaigns it set out to understand the reasons, running a series of mathematical and computational algorithms as it analysed the most common mobile ad targeting parameters such as geography, device, operating system and connection type.
None of these were able to explain why ads had performed differently, but Todacell did find a direct correlation between a country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita and the performance of mobile display ads in relation to the colors used in the ad's creative.
In particular, mobile ad creative with bright, multi-coloured images performed better in lower GDP per capita countries such as Kenya, India, Burma and Nicaragua and worse in higher GDP per capita countries including the US, Denmark, Qatar and Singapore.
Conversely, mobile ad creative with minimalist or muted colours performed better in higher GDP countries and worse in emerging, lower GDP countries.
Both types of ads performed equally well in countries in the middle of the GDP per capita range, such as Argentina, Russia, Poland and Brazil.
"Mobile display ads that succeed in Cleveland should also succeed in Copenhagen, but probably won't succeed in Casablanca or Cairo", noted Todacell.
A further discovery was that ad performance was also affected by the number of shades or grades of the specific colours used. Thus, consumers engaged more with a mobile display ad if at least one or two of the colours (usually the ad's background) appeared in several shades or grades of that colour than with ads having one shade of each colour, regardless of the country's GDP per capita.
"These results aren't driven exclusively by income but also by culture," said Amir Goldstein, Todacell CEO. "Even in lower income areas in high GDP countries, the mobile ads with the minimalist / muted colours performed better than the ones with brighter colours. We saw the same in affluent areas of lower GDP per capita countries."
Todacell claimed that matching ads to GDP per capita could increase CTRs by up to 150% and ROI by up to 50%.
Earlier this year, research around digital auto advertising also established colour as a potentially important factor in a campaign. Those with a white or black background achieved fewer clicks but more conversions.
Data sourced from Todacell; additional content by Warc staff