Study: Mobile (And Particularly iPhone) Users Not Keen On Clicking Ads

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New research performed by online search advertising company Chitika suggests mobile users are far less likely to click on ads than non-mobile Internet users. In fact, they’re about half as likely, the study shows based on a sample of 92 million impressions.

Could that be true? Wasn’t it the other way around?

First, we should note right off the bat that Chitika is an Internet advertising company that’s decidedly not into mobile advertising according to its own website, so that brings along a large truck carrying bags filled with grains of salt. That said, it’s worth taking a look at how they got to the conclusion, so we can reach our own.

Chitika claims to power advertising for over 55,000 sites, serving ads based on 2 billion monthly impressions. Of the 92 million impressions cited in the study, approximately 1.3 million or 1.5% of the lot came from mobile browsing. The ads that were shown on mobile devices were exactly the same as the ones displayed to non-mobile users, rather than comparing standard online advertising with mobile-oriented ads.

Ad click-through of mobile as a whole pulled only 0.48% according to analysis of the sample, with non-mobile holding steady with a 0.83% clickthrough rate. That would mean mobile commanded just over half of the average.

Of the five major smartphone operating systems – Android, iPhone OS, Windows Mobile, Palm OS and BlackBerry OS – Apple’s iPhone ranked worst for ad click-throughs representing a mere 0.30% rate. The “Other” group, comprised mainly of BlackBerry users and a handful of other operating systems (including Symbian, Nokia, and HTC) saw the highest ad click-through rate.

Personally, I’m a bit hesitant to believe the outcome of the study – much like Chitika’s earlier one about Bing ads’ click-through rate being twice as big as Google ads – considering the self-serving aspect and the apparent desire to come to controversial conclusions in order to draw attention.

On the flip side, there hasn’t been that much independent research for mobile ad click-through rates yet, and I’m equally keen not to blatantly believe studies that show mobile advertising commands spectacularly high click-through rates compared to web advertising. In my opinion it’s conceivable that click-through rates would be rather similar and largely dependent on context, type of advertising, how well the message fits the medium etc.

In short: more neutral research wanted.

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