In the world of mobile advertising, banner ads have come to dominate campaigns. But are mobile banner ads as effective as they could be? There’s no doubt that ads, which come in several formats – from mobile leaderboards to MPUs (Mid-page units), will deliver impressions and some level of click throughs due to the sheer volumes of traffic – but equally many mobile users will loathe and ignore them.
Low attention span
One of the recurring problems with mobile banner ads is that people are generally too busy for ads – especially when using their phones. Browsing on mobile devices is more purpose driven, even more so if you’re on the move, and space is already very limited on mobile devices therefore banners can be an annoyance. Whereas with desktop and laptops, web browsing can be more casual and real estate much bigger therefore ads can be less annoying. Research has even revealed that four out of ten mobile users say ads do not register with them when they’re performing information-seeking tasks such as searching for local businesses.
Another problem is accidental clicks from unintended target audiences, such as children. And there’s the ‘fat thumbs’ issue: a 2016 study revealed that 60 percent of those surveyed said that if they do click on banner ads while on a smartphone or tablet, “it’s usually by accident” due to the device’s small screen – with just 16 percent claiming they click on ads because they “like the company, product, or service being promoted.” The study also showed that just 13 percent clicked because they think the ads are interesting.
What kind of ads DO work best on mobile?
When it comes to mobile ads, in our opinion, ads served within social media newsfeeds, search ads, text ads, and carefully crafted native ads deliver the best engagement and least annoyance from the user’s perspective. Search ads will always be strong irrespective of desktop or mobile but in terms of display, social media ads via newsfeeds continue to be the best format in terms of real awareness and engagement. After all, most social networking is now done on mobile, so it feels entirely natural to see ads on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram newsfeeds, as these have proven over the years to become less annoying for the consumer.
According to eMarketer, Google and Facebook together accounted for 54% of all mobile advertising in 2016 and that number is set to go higher this year. Another recent study has indicated, native ads placed next to top-quality editorial content performed the best – this is because people were engaged with the content and spent more time on the page, clearly demonstrating that the places you advertise your message matters.
What’s the future for mobile banner ads?
For as long as brands are hungry to spread their message far and wide, mobile will always be a strong choice within a marketer’s strategy. Ad formats will have to become less intrusive and more ingrained into the way people absorb information on a device. And this is why social media works. It’s not just up to the advertisers to act – publishers will need to find a way of making the content more reader-friendly, allowing for ad formats that are not destructive but instead quite helpful, so the message can stand out. Publishers and content producers need to move in a direction where their content is optimised for mobile and the advertising opportunities sit well in that format and not just in a clumsy way, as well as offer ad solutions that won’t be a hindrance.
Social networking giants such as Facebook, have successfully demonstrated how consumers have accepted advertising on mobile devices and with very good results. However this has not happened overnight. Remember the time when people complained about ads in their newsfeed? No other advertising platform has evolved their formats as much as Facebook has done in the last few years and the results can clearly be seen.
To summarise, here at Digital Dialog, we think mobile is and will be a great medium for advertisers but there is much more than banner ads. Marketers need to carefully consider all available options and not give in to the temptation of treating mobile merely as an extension of desktop display advertising.