The Sad State Of Mobile Advertising (I'm Crying On The Inside)

Let’s be honest for a minute.  My wife and I both love advertising.  I watch ads on TV and I look at ads online.   We’re an anomaly in a lot of ways, but one is we tend to discuss what we like and didn’t about the ads we see (“Chicken parm, you taste so good” is our current favorite).

Last week, when I was coming up with my idea for this week’s column, we coincidentally commented on the very same thing in passing conversation.  The topic was what I decided to discuss this week.  Simply put: The majority of ads on mobile SUCK!

Some of what I see on apps is not horrible, like interstitials.  I’m not even talking about the ads I see on my Facebook feed, which I think tend to be pretty good and offer a unique experience.  

The real problem comes from the ads you’re served when you visit some click-bait article from your feed. The experience is worse than the now-defunct pop-ups of “olden days.”  I click through to read something interesting, and I have four full-page ads with no “x” to close — and when I scroll down the mobile page, all the content is disguised to look like ads; the ads are larger than the content, so they trick your eye to click.  



The worst of the worst, though is the forced scroll, which requires me to scroll down while it covers the content, blocking my view until I “see” the whole ad.  

This is why people hate us.  This is why advertising gets a bad rap!  

The people buying these ads, and those placing these ads, should be tied up and forced to listen to a mash-up of Vanilla Ice and REO Speedwagon on repeat for seven days straight, with nothing but bread and water for sustenance.

We wonder why the most popular app on the App Store last week was an ad blocker.  Those ads should be blocked!  Maybe, if they were, the fly-by-night companies who place them would all go out of business — and the folks with true strategic chops and actual products and services of interest would be able to succeed!

I read an article that said if you work in the ad business and you use an ad blocker, you’re a hypocrite.  I don’t disagree, but if you work in the ad business and you buy or sell that schlock, you’re also a hypocrite.  

I have an advertising degree and I legitimately love advertising, but seeing these kinds of desperate attempts to generate page views and revenue make me sad.  

It’s like the Direct TV ads with Rob Lowe and “that other Rob Lowe.” One of us believes in strategy and the ability to deliver a relevant message that resonates with the audience in a way that can spur an action.  The other one of us believes in click-through rates, runs an ad campaign using 4 DSPs in one media flight, and believes CPA should be the core of an advertising strategy because it will get lots of impressions quickly.    

Don’t be like the “other ad exec” me.  Be like me: Use strategy.  It just might save your career!

That’s all I have for this week.  I have to go back to crying on the inside over the sorry state of affairs in mobile advertising.  I hope to recover for next week’s column.

8 comments about "The Sad State Of Mobile Advertising (I'm Crying On The Inside)".
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  1. Michael Baer from TechCXO, September 23, 2015 at 10:42 a.m.

    So very true. It's not only very very bad advertising, but it goes against the entire intent-based behavior on the hand-held device. 

  2. Doug Schumacher from Zuum, September 23, 2015 at 12:16 p.m.

    Straight up, Cory. It's interesting that it's the content ads, supposedly the 'best' user experience, which seem to be the worst. Even on what I think of as legit publications. I don't know how long they can continue to serve up those types of links and expect people to keep clicking. It's certainly trained my eye to check the sponsoring publication before even considering pursuing the link. 

  3. STEVE CLIMONS from Crosssover Creative, September 23, 2015 at 12:40 p.m.

    Funny. Vanilla Ice and REO Speedwagon for seven days will get to you turning you into that "other" Rob Lowe. 

  4. Kim Stuart from, September 23, 2015 at 2:13 p.m.

    It's like bad porn ads from the late 90s.

  5. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, September 23, 2015 at 4:54 p.m.

    And we are surprised why?  For all the bluster about how much innovation will come in new media, most of the new media options degrade quickly to cheesiness. 

    My students used to write papers about new media options. Gas pump TV's were supposed to offer contextual contact. But they mostly carry bottom of the barrel DR ads for unaccredited colleges. Mobile was supposed to be local contextual, etc... But it's really crass. Digital ads were supposed to be outstanding. Except the vast buik of digital ads are flashing and incredibly intrusive stuff I hate.

    But we shouldn't be surprised. All of those are cash grabs backed by VC money not natural evolution of advertising that's useful to consumers. So it's no wonder the ads have to be obnoxious - the consumer doesn't want them at all.

  6. Sue Macdonald from MacDonald Media, September 23, 2015 at 5:33 p.m.

    I used to visit European websites and see these awful ads that followed me around the page. Now, they've moved to the U.S. content, and they're awful. Annoying. Whatever happened to the "opt-in" approach to Internet content?

  7. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, September 23, 2015 at 6 p.m.

    It's hard to care about the 5 percent of good ads that I miss by blocking and fast forwarding. 

  8. chuck husak from august, lang & husak, September 24, 2015 at 7:22 p.m.

    I always thought advertising was all about persuasion -- winning over a viewer or reader with the power and insight of your message.  There's no persuasion when your creative strategy is reduced to forcing people to watch your ad before they can access the content on the other side of it.  That's not persuasion -- feels more like... coercion?  

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