Relevancy Is A Mobile Display Myth -- It's User Control That Will Stop The Blocking

It's time for marketing executives who trot out the relevance argument to take a reality check. Relevancy just doesn't resonate with consumers, even on their most personal device, the mobile phone. To recap, accepted wisdom is that consumers don't mind giving up a little personal or anonymised data if it makes their experience a little more relevant. It's a cornerstone of the value exchange that underpins digital marketing. Or is it?

New research from the IAB UK shows that from a fairly long list of what consumers want from mobile advertising, relevance is way down at the bottom. The biggest item on the mobile advertising wish list, for 58% of consumers, is ads that are easily controlled and dismissed. Several other options were important for half of consumers, including ads that do not cover content, being slow to load or the same ads showing too many times. Relevancy only got the proverbial nod from just over one in three consumers, at 35%. 

It's clear, then, that the appeal of relevancy has to be adjusted in marketers' minds. People want ads that don't get in the way, don't slow mobile pages down and can be dismissed. Those concerns are way above any hope that the ads they see, but are likely to want to skip as soon as possible, bear any resemblance to their professional requirements or leisure time needs. It doesn't matter what their browsing behaviour tells the marketer or what clever information an advertising network can glean from the email ID through which they are elsewhere logged in to Google -- people just aren't that bothered if the ads are relevant.

It's quite easy to see what the value exchange is with many forms of marketing. In social, for example, you tell Facebook a lot about yourself, and in email most people are willing to give up an address in return for tip-offs about sales and new stock availability and maybe some interesting must-read articles. 

The issue with display, and now mobile display, is that people aren't willingly making a decision to give up their data. They're just going about their daily business with only a vague understanding that their anonymised browsing habits are putting them into key audience segments. What's more, nobody goes to their mobile phone looking for ads. 

So there has been no active sharing of data, which means consumers are mostly unaware of any supposed value exchange, and so they really don't crave for or notice more relevant advertising. 

Rather puts a hole in the argument that advertisers need to serve more relevant ads to stop people from deploying ad blockers, doesn't it? By the way, the latest IAB UK figures show that this is around one in ten mobile users. For the average consumer, relevancy is on their radar, but it's way below ads that don't get in the way. So next time a digital marketing "guru" repeats once again the relevancy argument they have never been bothered to challenge, take some pride in knowing that it's mostly a myth and the IAB UK has the data to prove it. 

2 comments about "Relevancy Is A Mobile Display Myth -- It's User Control That Will Stop The Blocking".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 29, 2016 at 1:31 p.m.

    While I agree that asking advertisers to offer more "relevant" ads as a magic cure for ad blocking is an absurd and hopelessly unrealistic "solution", I take these types of public opinion studies with several grains of salt. If you posed the same brush stroke questions about TV I would assume that aside from wanting "better" shows, many respondents would say the same things about TV commercials as were found in this study regarding digital ads.

    The reason it is so silly to plead for advertisers as a class to provide  more "relevant" ads is obvious. Many products and services aren't terribly relevant----or needed---or vital to consumers. Also many advertisers need to push out their messages and hope that someone sees them and this requires executional approaches that often can't help but offend many viewers. It's the nature of the many headed advertising Hydra beast.

  2. Ned Newhouse from Conde Nast , June 29, 2016 at 3:44 p.m.

    Then youmust then believe SEM is a hoax. Great ads are information for the interested segment not advertising.  If you talking about today's inappropriate use of one ad serves everyone then yes that equates to failure because it doesn't appreciate context or content of the users interest..  The fact that agencies choose demographic and geographic programmatic segments and then don't produce data driven creative, even text change and show one, they must want to suck. 

Next story loading loading..