Nearly four in 10 consumers don't want to receive mobile ads for any reason -- and less than 20% recall seeing a mobile ad, according to new data from market research firm Parks Associates.
Those findings may not be especially encouraging to mobile marketers, but the broader mobile ad research Parks presented in a Webinar Thursday suggests there's also opportunity for advertisers to make their case on cell phones. So if 38% of U.S. mobile users don't want to see any ads, almost an equal percentage (37%) are neutral on ads and 25% are open to them.
"Most people don't want ads on their mobile device, but you have a huge chunk of people that are really neutral," said Heather Way, a research analyst at Parks Associates. "I think if anything it's a positive thing because you don't have people saying 'no.'" She added that the question is whether marketers will be able to sway mobile consumers over time with more targeted ads.
As of now, only 18% say they don't mind seeing personally relevant ads, with 39% indifferent and 43% not interested. The figures are roughly the same when asked about seeing ads in exchange for incentives like coupons and discounts or free entertainment services.
When it comes to recall, only 19% on average remembered viewing a mobile ad in the last 12 months. Younger users tend to have the higher recall rates, with 18- to-24-year-olds representing the peak, at 27%. Text ads -- probably because of their prevalence on mobile phones -- fared best in recall among users, at 49%, followed by ads at the top of a page (45%) and image-based ads (42%).
Not surprisingly, movie trailers topped the list of ad types that mobile users were most likely to take some type of action in response to, at 38%. Ads with click-to-call features and ads on the side of the page were next -- each at 35% -- followed by ads in the middle of the page (33%) and ads accompanying search results (32%).
Ads in mobile applications are a more nascent but rapidly growing trend, as apps themselves become more pervasive on mobile devices. How do consumers feel about ads creeping into them? More than half don't (55%) like in-app ads, 38% are neutral and 6% don't mind. Teens were somewhat less opposed, with only 49% objecting to in-app ads compared to 57% of adults.
Looking at broader mobile usage, the Parks study found that basic communication features were most popular. Email, Internet access, GPS capability, wireless/wireline convergence and instant messaging were cited as the most appealing ones. "Mobile content that serves a utilitarian type function and/or entertainment are by far the most used by consumers on mobile phones," said Way.
But she expects areas like mobile video to grow as more people get smartphones or other devices with larger screens that make viewing easier. Video advertising in 2009 accounted for only 0.5% of mobile ad revenue, according to Parks. Overall, the firm expects mobile advertising to increase from $208 million this year to $366 million in 2010, and to hit $1.5 billion by 2013.