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China mobile users ambivalent about ads

News, 17 March 2015

BEIJING: Chinese consumers exhibit contradictory attitudes towards mobile advertising, with two thirds regarding it as necessary, annoying and interesting all at the same time, according to a new survey.

The Dive Mobile study from media agency OMD surveyed the reactions to mobile advertising of 450 consumers in seven Chinese cities, covering tiers one to three.

Overall, 94% felt that mobile advertising was needed even as nearly the same proportion (89%) saw it as annoying, while three quarters (75%) said it was interesting. And 66% said it was all of these things, Campaign Asia-Pacific reported


Ad (ir)relevance was a major source of annoyance but OMD highlighted several misconceptions cited by respondents, including the idea held by around two thirds that ads waste users' mobile data and by around one third that device battery life is shortened as a result.

There were, it suggested, opportunities for advertisers to dispel these "myths" and so remove some of the antipathy towards mobile advertising.

Consumer behaviour reflected their ambivalence, the report argued, as was shown in their actions after accidentally clicking on an ad.

When this happened, very few chose to leave immediately, with just over half (53%) reading around one quarter of the landing page they arrived at, while just over a quarter (26%) read about half the landing page. And 4% will read the entire page.

The inconsistencies continued, with those consumers who were annoyed at ads being more likely to notice them than those who liked them (24.5% v 22.6%).

Unsurprisingly, the latter group were more likely to go on to make a purchase, but even those annoyed by ads still ended up buying (7.1% v 2.9%).

The study underlined that consumers were most likely to engage with mobile advertising for purely practical reasons, such as information and rewards. And most preferred to do this via simple picture ads (48.6%). Animated or video ads were less popular (36.1%) while interstitials attracted the least support (21.2%).

In geographical terms, the attention paid to mobile advertising rose in line with city tiers. Thus, over half (52%) of respondents in tier three cities chose to ignore it, compared to 31% in tier two and 22% in tier one.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff