Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Do some phones make you "click happy"?

Mobile Ad firm Chitika published some research last week under the controversial headline ‘Android Users 80% More Valuable Than iPhone Users’. While the headline was obviously designed to grab attention, the underlying research showed that click-through rates on mobile ads on Android was twice the rate of iPhone. Following the publication, several blogs discussed these results arguing for or against such a conclusion. One comment was that Android users are newer and therefore “click-happy”. Others said that the results were a fluke and would even out over time. The article clearly states that as Android market share grows these numbers may change noting that it will be interesting to see how or by how much.

The Chitika analysis describes something that is well known in the print and TV advertising industries, different target groups are more or less receptive to specific ads and to ads in general. By showing that this is also true with mobile ads they start a discussion about effectiveness of mobile ads in general, in this case based on phone OS, which will hopefully lead to a discussion about effective ways of presenting mobile ads on mobile phones in particular. There are a couple of areas that are bound to have huge impact on the effectiveness, as measured in click-through rates, of mobile phone ads; relevancy and placement. Let us start with relevancy!

Contextual advertising is one of the buzz-words of mobile advertising and it is assumed, correctly, that the more relevant and ad is based on the context in which it is being displayed, the more interesting it will be to the user resulting in higher click rates. One of the great drivers for this is of course location information that today is available on nearly all high end smart phones. But equally important is information about the user gained from user registration information or usage patterns showing history and trends of interests.

All this contextual information comes together as keywords contained in the ad query sent from the phone or application to the ad network. It is up to the ad network to deliver an ad that is highly relevant to the user at the time it is displayed. If this relevancy is very high, we can expect click through rates to reflect this. High relevancy leads to high "click happiness". The same can be expected from great placement, but more about this in a later blog.

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