A recent case study of a Continental Airlines campaign suggests that advertising on the mobile Web performs better than in mobile applications. Continental ran a campaign last summer with MediaVest promoting its Web site on both the mobile site of WhitePages.com and the online directory's iPhone app.
Both platforms featured a pair of text-based banner ads aimed at business and leisure travelers. Contrary to the expectations of WhitePages and Continental, the mobile Web ads (on the iPhone) delivered a higher click-through rate than the app versions. Without providing actual rates, WhitePages said the Web banners had a 135% higher CTR than ads on the iPhone app.
Ads on the mobile home page generated a higher CTR than other pages, while there was little difference in ad performance among pages in the app. Ads placed at the top of pages worked better than those at the bottom in both cases.
Beyond click-throughs, the mobile Web ads also sold 80% more airline tickets than the iPhone app. Based on the results, WhitePages and Continental found that app users are reluctant to leave the app environment by clicking on an ad. The takeaway for next time was to use a banner that allows for in-app interaction.
High-priced items like airline tickets are still a tough sell on mobile, according to the study. One conclusion is that travel advertisers might want to use mobile to cater to existing customers or offer a significant discount or other incentive that would eventually lead to a sale.
Of the two types of creative featured in the ads -- both online and in the app -- the one emphasizing functionality (check in, flight status, tickets) was the more popular. The copy in the other ad more broadly encouraged consumers to "Make Continental your one-stop travel center."