Mobile Ads: Consumers’ Most Important Elements and Biggest Concerns

February 26, 2014

PwC-Consumers-Most-Impt-Elements-Mobile-Ads-Feb2014Despite indications that consumers hold generally favorable attitudes towards marketing on mobile devices, advertisers still face an uphill battle in capturing their attention, at least according to a new PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study. In fact, the study finds an unwillingness on the part of respondents to click on ads even when they’re relevant to their interests. That makes it more important to understand what consumers see as the most important facets of mobile advertising.

On the topic of the most important elements of mobile advertising, respondents to the survey most commonly chose the following:

  • Duration/size of ads (57% top-2 box importance);
  • Relevance of the ad content (56%); and
  • Ads for services and goods specific to their location (51%).

Right off the bat, those results suggest that while relevance alone might not generate a click or view, it is important. That relevance extends to location, too – for some participants in a follow-up focus group, location-based ads were perceived to be a “service” of sorts. Others expressed privacy concerns.

As for duration and size of the ads, most focus group participants indicated that for video ads, shorter is more tolerable, with 15 seconds considered a fine threshold. In terms of ad size, larger ones are more tolerated on larger screens, but few want interruptive ads.

That explains why in a separate question, survey respondents indicated that banner ads are among their most-preferred format. In fact, 25% chose banners as their preferred mobile ad format, just behind mobile coupons (27%), but far ahead of video (12%), search (10%) and text (10%). (Gasp: Banners preferred over video!)

In order to avoid alienating mobile consumers, advertisers also need to be concerned about the frequency of targeting. And on this front, the results aren’t pretty. The study indicates that “even with the assumption of ad relevancy,” a majority 56% of respondents don’t want to ever be targeted on their devices. After that, 22% said weekly, 12% monthly, and just 10% daily. Interestingly, while respondents aged 50 and up were more likely to say they never want to be targeted, those that were open to targeted ads were more accepting of frequent targeting than their younger counterparts.

So how do consumers prefer to be targeted? Most commonly, it seems, by their interests (54%), although many find targeting by location (44%) to be tolerable. Fewer are drawn to targeting by previous online purchase history (25%), based on the types of websites visited on their phone (24%) and based on the types of websites visited on their PCs or tablets (19%).

Finally, with all those preferences, formats, and elements for advertisers to digest, here are consumers’ top concerns about mobile advertising that advertisers need to be careful about avoiding:

  • That they cross the line into personal space (30%);
  • That they not be able to turn the ads off (24%);
  • That they are too intrusive on their lifestyle (18%);
  • That there are too many (18%); and
  • That they are not relevant (6%).

Clearly, these survey respondents are more concerned with their privacy than they are with the ads themselves. Lots of barriers, it seems, for advertisers to overcome.

About the Data: The report summarizes key findings from a 1,003 respondent survey conducted among US consumers in October, 2013. The sample was 60% female. Some 69% of respondents are aged 25-49.

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