Mobile Internet Engagement and Ad Clickthroughs Out of Sync

According to the results of research exploring mobile Internet engagement levels among smartphone owners, as compared to owners of other devices, InsightExpress found that 68% of smartphone users reported feeling positively engaged (enjoyment in activity) while using the mobile Internet, second only to the 70% of users who were positively engaged while on a computer. Alternately, only 47% of feature phone users reported positive mobile site engagement.

When mobile Internet users were asked to identify the top three elements that most influence their decision to return to a mobile Internet site, they reported:

  • The speed at which the site loads
  • The ease of navigation on the site
  • The quality of the content on the site itself

Among mobile Internet users, several small but telling differences were revealed when comparing smartphone owners to feature phone owners, says the report:

  • Both groups prioritized the speed at which a mobile site loads,
  • Smartphone users looked next at the quality of the content, ranking ease of navigation as less important
  • Feature phone users found ease of navigation almost as essential as their number one concern, how fast the mobile site loads.

Mobile Web site features that had the least impact on a users decision to make a return visit were the absence of advertising, the ability to personalize, and the number of links, videos or images on the site. Publishers will likely welcome the news that the presence of advertising on a site does not lessen its appeal, concludes the study.

Joy Liuzzo, Director of Marketing and Mobile Research. "Mobile advertising presents a unique opportunity to take advantage of high engagement levels and less clutter on the pages... advertisers enjoy a large share of voice per page since there is often only one advertisement on the page and it takes up more screen space... "

And, an almost concurrent study by Chitika of mobile vs. non-mobile Internet usage, based on a sample of 93 million impressions, mobile users are approximately half as likely to click on an advertisement as non-mobile users. Non-mobile held an 0.83% clickthrough rate, while mobile as a whole pulled a mere 0.48% - just over half of the average.

It appears, given the numbers, that mobile users are not receptive to advertising. This phenomenon that is not surprising, concludes the report, given the mobile users' propensity to be searching for quick answers or directions.

Of the five major smartphone operating systems, iPhone ranked the worst for clickthrough rate at 0.30%. iPhone also accounted for the bulk of mobile hits, at 66%. The group which clicked on ads the most is the "Other" group, comprised mainly of BlackBerry users and a small handful of other phone operating systems (including Symbian, Nokia, and HTC).

Mobile Internet Browsing & Clickthroughs

Smartphone Systems

% Hits

Clickthrough Rate(% of browsing, rounded)







Windows CE









Total Mobile



Source: Chatika, September 2009

The clickthrough rates, says the report, are certainly lower than expected, given the industry's general consensus that mobile users are more likely to click ads. Possibly, concludes the study, because the ads displayed on mobile devices are the same as the ones displayed to non-mobile, rather than comparing standard online advertising with mobile-oriented ads.

However, concludes the report, though "... (though) mobile accidental clicks are more relevant than in non-mobile ad serving, it appears that mobile Internet users are disinterested in advertising at an extremely high rate... "

To review the Chitika report, please visit here, and to read the InsightExpress release in its entirety, please go here.


5 comments about "Mobile Internet Engagement and Ad Clickthroughs Out of Sync".
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  1. Ann O'daniel from Experience Branding, September 23, 2009 at 9:34 a.m.

    These findings are intersting but is the lack of interest in mobile ads a function of the device or a lack of interest in advertising in general? And please dig deeper into the difference between "personalized features" which take work to set up on a phone and relelvant, personalized messages. My suspicion is that there is still too much spam and not enough helpful, trusted, permission based messsaging.

  2. Jeff Einstein from The Brothers Einstein, September 23, 2009 at 10:21 a.m.

    How many more studies do we need to conclude that the advertising-as-intermediary model doesn't work when everyone has the technology to avoid the ads?

    The only universal conclusion that follows advertising wherever it goes nowadays is this: in an on-demand universe no one demands more ads, no matter how "relevant". Indeed, the device or medium du jour is irrelevant.

    The only comfort for anyone in this industry nowadays is found in commiseration over the fact that advertising as intermediary doesn't work for anyone anymore.

  3. Lynn Tornabene from Quattro Wireless, September 23, 2009 at 10:27 a.m.

    The research sited on click-throughs is based on 1.3 million ads served in mobile by an online ad network -- not a robust data set, and I assume this is for PC internet (non mobile optimized) sites as well, for which you would expect a low click through on the ads (since the ads are on a site created for a much bigger screen, and might even be flash ads that won't even render). We serve 4 billion ads per month on mobile, and our Q2 data shows that iPhone gets the highest click throughs. For example, looking at ads in iPhone apps, the overall clickthrough average was .97%, almost 10x the online average (according to DoubleClick) of .1%. You can see our indexed stats in the new "State of Mobile Marketing" report at, figure 19.

  4. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, September 23, 2009 at 11:39 a.m.


    Me thinks you doth protest too much.

    If the industry-average CTR is .1% (actually, I think DoubleClick said "less than .1%"), and yours performs at "almost 10x the online average", it means that for every example like yours there is some poor sap getting a .01% (or less) CTR. The truth may hurt, but that's how averages work.

    But congratulations on winning today's tallest midget debate.

  5. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, September 23, 2009 at 1:56 p.m.

    The great thing about technology is creative destruction. Tablet type of portable devices that allow larger screens in light weight rugged packages will supplant phones for web surfing and video/TV content within 10 years. This is guaranteed. Phones will become small data devices for quick news, sports scores and communicating. The great thing about the move to Tablets will be html and flash. All the current web infrastructure will work. No need for separate websites! And this will enable Firefox with Ad Blocker Plus to be used to reduce screen clutter. And I expect Ad Blocking software to also migrate to smart phones. The reason being simple. If the Phone Device and the Carrier are not getting the advertising revenues...and all that goes to the mobile site operator, then they have no reason to protect advertising on the screen and every reason to protect the 'experience' so that people do not jump to other carriers or devices.

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