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BizReport : Advertising : July 16, 2014


Research reveals products best suited to mobile advertising

Researchers at Columbia Business School wanted to find out if banner ads on a smartphone's web browser actually work. Their results reveal that they do, but are only effective for certain products.

by Helen Leggatt

Billions is spent each year on mobile display advertising, and that spend is only set to skyrocket. But just how well do those small ads on small screens really work. According to the report "Which Products Are Best Suited to Mobile Advertising? A Field Study of Mobile Display Advertising Effects on Consumer Attitudes and Intentions", conducted by researchers at Columbia Business School, those ads do work but only for certain types of considered purchases.

In their analysis of survey data collected from 40,000 consumers in the U.S., Columbia Business School found that mobile display ads work best for products that have a practical and important use that require considerable thought when decision-making. Such items might be a lawnmower, family car or washing machine.

However, when it comes to less important and low-involvement purchases, like entertainment purchases (movie tickets) or everyday essentials (toothbrushes) or fancy items such as watches, mobile banners ads aren't as effective.

According to Miklos Sarvary, co-director of the Media Program at Columbia Business School, marketers' approach to mobile advertising is still "spray and pray" - putting out ads and hoping they will work. But, he believe there's a lot more going on in the minds of consumers. A lot of rational thought goes in to comparing one product to another and this psychological process is intensified when the purchase under consideration serves a useful purpose.

During that period of consideration "you're debating with yourself about which model of car you should buy," says Sarvary. "If a display ad for that car shows up on your smartphone, even if it's tiny and doesn't provide you with new information, it'll reinforce what you already know about the product."

The upshot? Sarvary says mobile display advertising's strength lies in reminding consumers of what they already know and prompting them to rethink about the product. To that end, Sarvary suggests that mobile display advertising is more effective after a product has been advertised in other media.

"That way," says Sarvary, "the banner ad seals the deal."

The results of the study were recently published in Volume 51, Issue 3 (June 2014) of the American Marketing Association's Journal of Marketing Research.

Tags: advertising, mobile, research










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  • Aaron Mahl

    This is why I'm such a fan of native advertising (for mobile) and pumped for what native mobile ads made possible by Airpush, Twitter, Facebook, etc. will mean for mobile advertising over the long haul. Native ads, when well done and relevant, can be used to pretty much promote anything effectively. And that's a powerful resource.


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