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A Waste of Mobile Ad Clicks: Another Argument for In-App Ads?

Close to half - 47% - of mobile app users say they click/tap on mobile ads more often by mistake than they do on purpose, according to a new survey conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Pontiflex in December 2010. Given that mobile advertising models typically charge advertisers for clicks, the survey findings indicate that a large portion of mobile ad dollars are wasted. Bottom line, Pontiflex said, with so many accidental clicks, advertisers cannot continue to use traditional online ad units and measurement models - namely banners and click-through rates - to measure the success of mobile campaigns.

There are other reasons to adopt the in-app ad model, marketers have found. "People are turned off by advertising that causes them to stop what they are doing and disrupts their experience," said Deb Swider, Director, eMarketing at the American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

The study - and Pontiflex customer ASPCA - make intuitive sense. However a look at some of the initial lessons learned by Apple’s iAd early adopters - which has made the biggest splash with its in-app ad offering - should also be weighed.

A Few Cons

Apple's ads don't refresh as quickly as other ads - thus developers might not earn as much over time, theorizes Kenneth Ballenegger (via the Wall Street Journal).

The amount iAds pay is "a high number when you get it, but you don’t get it very often," Dave Yonamine, the director of marketing at MobilityWare, told the Journal. "The total revenue level is pretty minuscule compared to our other [ad] networks," he said. "We can't rely on it yet."

Also, Apple is analyzing the purchasing habits of its 150 million iTunes users in order to help serve up targeted ads through iAd, according to many media reports. "Apple knows what you've downloaded, and how much time you spend interacting with applications," said Rachel Pasqua, director of mobile at iCrossing, a marketing company. "It even knows what you’ve downloaded, don't like and deleted." (via the Telegraph).

It has been reported that Unilever, for example, is using iAd to target married men who are in their late 30s and have children, with ads for its Dove Men+Care range. Apple then overlays that with the iTunes information and targets quite well and quite surgically, according to the Telegraph.

While this may be welcome data for marketers, it is attracting the attention of U.S. and European regulatory agencies.

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