Study: Consumers Increasingly Receptive to Mobile Ads

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mobile phone userOver the past few years, it hasn’t been uncommon to hear proclamations that the “year of mobile” is finally nigh — that the platform with so much promise would finally hit a tipping point and begin to dominate in terms of brands’ ad spending. It’s unclear if we’ve reached that point, exactly, for advertisers, but consumer engagement with mobile does appear to have gone mainstream.

A new study released by xAd and Telmetrics finds that consumer engagement with mobile ads has increased dramatically over the past few years. In the two companies’ 3rd Annual U.S. Mobile Path-to-Purchase study, conducted by Nielsen, nearly 50% of mobile shoppers said that they found mobile ads informative/helpful — up from 22% in 2013. In addition, 40% of respondents reported clicking on mobile ads, and nearly half of those said they went on to take secondary actions (like viewing a website or searching for additional information).

Telmetrics CEO Bill Dinan said that the results of the study over several years indicate a real evolution in the way that consumers engage with their devices as mobile becomes more and more mainstream as an advertising platform.

“People are becoming more receptive to mobile ad content — whether it’s in a website, or in an app,” said Dinan. “People are becoming more used to ads being there. People are becoming more engaged with ads. Publishers are trying to figure out how to make ads more relevant. And as a result, we’re seeing more of these secondary actions.”

The secondary actions appear to be a key indicator of purchase intent for mobile shoppers.  The study found that consumers who took these kinds of actions after clicking on an ad were likely looking to convert quickly and find nearby businesses to satisfy what they were looking for — 50% wanted to make a purchase within an hour, and 70% went on to make the purchase. These actions are all very local — with 67% of these shoppers looking for a business within five miles to satisfy their needs, and 18% looking for a location within one mile.

Dinan said that with engagement established, more advanced metrics are now needed to understand mobile’s effectiveness in driving purchases: “We’ve figured out how to get people engaged, the next part is for these publishers and these agencies to make sure they can capture the right and relevant metrics to leverage the engagement.”

The study seems to indicate that the increasing relevance of ads is a big factor in spurring engagement. Over 40% of mobile users in the study said they clicked on an ad because it was relevant to their interests or purchase research. Coupons and discounts were big drivers of engagement, and more than 50% of respondents said location was an important factor to an ad’s relevance, up sharply over two years.

According to Dinan, the distinction that many marketers make between mobile and desktop is starting to fall away. “Mobile is digital, digital is mobile — that’s the point we’re at now,” he said. “The mobile device is my portal to my day; my digital sherpa; my guide to life.”

David Hirschman is a co-founder at Street Fight.

Related content: Mobile’s Increasingly Strong Influence in Consumer Purchase Decisions