Ads served within apps tend to stick with consumers longer than ones they see on the mobile Web, according to a new survey by Web measurement firm Compete. More than half of smartphone owners (52%) recall in-app ads they have encountered, compared to 40% who remember ads they saw while surfing the mobile Web.
That disparity was even more marked among iPhone users, with 65% recalling in-app ads and 33% recalling mobile browser ads. Overall, however, ads on Google's Android platform had slightly higher recall -- 55% compared to 51% for the iPhone. By contrast, only 22% of BlackBerry owners recalled some form of advertising on their device.
In-app ads tend to feature rich media formats that fill the screen and appear at intervals during games, for instance -- making them ostensibly more attention-grabbing than standard mobile Web display ads. If users find rich media ads too intrusive or annoying, however, that's a different problem.
Tom Limongello, vice president, marketing for mobile rich media provider Crisp Media, said the company has not done specific research on recall by ad type or smartphone platform. But he suggested that ad recall on the mobile Web may be higher for Android than the iPhone. Android users are doing more activities via the browser, like search, while Apple device users are more app-centric.
He added that it would be interesting to compare time spent with rich media ads in apps and on the mobile Web. If users have longer session times with apps than browsers, "it would make sense for ads in apps to be more memorable, based on the fact that the ads were simply seen for a longer period of time," he said.
In terms of ad formats, text messaging/SMS ads were the least memorable, with 27% recall among iPhone and Android users. "If the behaviors of iPhone and Android users -- who have more experience interacting with different forms of mobile advertising -- are indicative of where the industry is headed, we're starting to see what forms of advertising could be most effective moving forward," said Danielle Nohe, director of technology and entertainment for Compete.
Google released study results in April indicating that 82% of smartphone users notice mobile ads, especially display ads, and a third notice mobile search ads. Half of those who have seen a mobile ad have at some point taken an action, with 35% visiting a Web site and 49% making a purchase.
Among other findings in Compete's Smartphone Intelligence study covering the first quarter, iPhone users were the most likely to have already adopted financial-services-focused apps. In relation to m-commerce, 12% of smartphone owners have made a purchase at a retail point-of-service with their device. And among those who recall seeing a QR code, 32% scanned it, usually to get more information or access a special deal or coupon.
When it comes to tablet owners, the study found a third are interested in using them for business purposes. People who had both a smartphone and a tablet used the latter for single-focus tasks or for reading content such as blogs, news and books and watching video. People have programs running in the background, like music apps, more on smartphones than tablets.
The top app categories in the first quarter were games (55%), weather (44%), social networking (39%,), entertainment (38%) and maps/ navigation (36%). Social networking has moved up from the fifth to the third most-downloaded type of app in the last year.
The Compete findings are based on a survey of 1,431 mobile users in April. That group includes 522 smartphone owners and 909 feature phone users. The smartphone sample includes 190 people using Android phones, 154 on the iPhone, 90 on BlackBerry devices and 51 Windows Mobile owners.