Ever accidentally launch a mobile ad while navigating an app? You're not alone, according to a new survey from lead-gen agency Pontiflex and Harris Interactive. The study found that nearly half (47%) of mobile app users have clicked or tapped ads by mistake more often than on purpose.
The upshot of the findings, based on a December survey of more than 4,000 app users, is that a large chunk of mobile ad dollars are wasted, since advertisers typically pay on a cost-per-click basis. "Clicks aren't an effective way of measuring mobile ad campaigns and these survey findings prove it," said Pontiflex co-founder and CEO Zephrin Lasker, in a statement.
People 18 to 34 years old -- the most active age group when it comes to mobile apps -- were also the most likely to accidentally click on mobile ads, with 61% doing so.
In a related December survey, 71% of app users said they prefer ads that keep them within the app they are using, instead of ads that take them out of the app to a mobile Web browser. That further suggests the need for mobile advertisers to move away from a click-based ad model, according to Pontiflex.
The company estimates that 95% of mobile app users use free apps while 41% use paid apps. The new survey found almost two-thirds of mobile app users selected ads that contain coupons, deals or newsletters as their preferred in-app mobile ad type.
There's little question that mobile apps are booming. A forecast released Wednesday by Gartner predicted worldwide mobile app revenue will nearly triple this year to $15.1 billion, while downloads will more than double to 17.7 billion. The revenue total reflects both paid downloads and free, ad-supported apps, which are expected to account for 81% of all downloads this year.
With a growing in-app ad market, Pontiflex is not advocating that advertisers pull out of the emerging category altogether. Instead, the findings of the research it commissioned are intended to help convince marketers to adopt its own AppLeads format -- sign-up ads that allow people to opt-in without having to click out of an app or interrupting game play. Of course, Apple, Greystripe, Medialets and other companies make similar claims for their own in-app ad units.
Perhaps a bigger problem for marketers is one indicated by a separate Harris Interactive survey on behalf of design agency EffectiveUI in November, which found that nearly 40% of adults online are dissatisfied with branded apps. The less time someone spends with an app, the less ad opportunity it affords.