We Hate Mobile Advertising

eMarketer reports on a survey by Harris Interactive¬†that suggests that¬†users don’t want mobile advertising, unless they’re paid (or otherwise incentivised) to receive it. In fact, the majority (90%) were “not at all interested” in the idea with just over 1/3 being agreeable to being paid in some way to get them.

Let’s leave aside the fact that the survey omitted mobile web based advertising in its options to deliver ads, which may have significantly skewed the results. I mean, if the user’s perception is that they were going to get interrupted with SMS alerts, I can understand some of the negativity. This type of advertising is very interruptive, after all.

It’s odd to leave out the format that seems to be growing faster than any other though.

However, I don’t believe that this is the right way of looking at advertising and indeed, as consumers, most of us don’t. The choice generally isn’t one between “no advertising” or “some advertising” as this survey suggests. But between “no advertising” and “free or subsidised content or services”. In other words, if you asked viewers of a commercial radio station if they’d prefer no advertising or paying a subscription to listen, the vast majority (not all) would opt for the advertising.

AdMob (my day job) has just served 1.5 billion ads (yay) and in fact, we’ve only ever had one complaint, which is too small to even be measurable in percentage terms. The lady wanted to know why advertisements were suddenly appearing on “her” mobile website. We explained that the ads were being served by our publishing partner so that they could continue to provide the service she enjoyed for free. She suddenly turned very supportive 🙂

A further theory I’ve developed is that users are using mobile web ads to help discover and navigate to new content. This could be why the click through rates tend to be so high right now.

But¬†I’ll finish with¬†eMarketer’s conclusions about directly paying people to receive ads. Many have tried this model and all (that I can think of) have failed. If you’re tempted by this business model, you have been warned.

But mobile advertising can be used successfully to subsidise content, services and applications and I’d predict that this is going to be the next big phase in mobile. Note though that ad-subsidised is very different from ad-funded, because when you crunch the numbers, models entirely funded by advertising just don’t add up very often.













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