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Interruptive mobile ads are most annoying

News, 08 September 2017
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LONDON: Ads that prevent consumers from viewing the content they want have surfaced as among the three most annoying mobile ad formats, according to new research.

On Device Research, a mobile market research firm commissioned by ad tech platform Inskin Media, surveyed 900 people in the UK about their attitudes to mobile advertising, as well as brand lift metrics, by comparing different types of mobile ad formats.

Pop-up ads were cited by almost a third (28%) of respondents as the most annoying ad format, followed by ads that occupy the middle of the screen (26%), while just under a fifth (18%) voiced their frustration with ads that delay a page loading. All three formats are guilty of interrupting a user’s experience of content.

“It’s not rocket science”, said Steve Doyle, Inskin Media’s CCO. “Advertisers simply have to put themselves in people’s shoes and be more considerate about the mobile advertising user experience.”

Moreover, the solutions to annoying ads are relatively simple to achieve, Doyle continued. “Un-skippable ads, ads which obscure content or those that don’t have a close button should be avoided,” he said.

“If a video ad is autoplay, then at least it should be without sound. If content is hidden by interstitial formats, then they should be easy to close,” he added.

“As an advertiser you need to respect people's right to choose whether to look at ads, and it’s simply common sense not to interrupt or annoy users.” said Doyle. Furthermore, giving people a choice of when to interact with an ad will increase its chances of success.

At a time when ad blocking is a key topic for the industry, the news surfaces in the wake of The Coalition for Better Ads’ March study, which identified the formats that “fall beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability” – or, in other words, the ads that simply annoy consumers.

It found that the most irritating ads on mobile tended to be interruptive and non-controllable by the user. The Coalition found that sticky ads which travel with content at the top or bottom of the screen fall beneath the acceptability threshold. Inskin and OnDevice found that ads positioned at the side of the screen which surround rather than obstruct the page's content are rated less annoying and increase recall by 134% compared to the average.

Commenting on the establishment of standards, the IAB’s CEO, Randall Rothenburg, said at the time that he hoped they would act as a “wake-up call to brands, retailers, agencies, publishers, and their technology suppliers, and that they will retire the ad formats that research proves annoy and abuse consumers”.

This article was amended to clarify the distinction between skin formats and 'sticky ads'.

Data sourced from Inskin Media/On Device Research, WARC; additional content by WARC staff

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