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Summary:

Android users are 80 percent more valuable than iPhone users, says Chitika, an online advertising network that serves 2 billion monthly impressions to over more than 80,000 websites. What’s driving this higher click-through rate on Android? A bad interface, Google “magic” or something else entirely?

Android users are 80 percent more valuable than iPhone users, says Chitika, an online advertising network that serves 2 billion monthly impressions over more than 80,000 websites. The Westborough, Mass. company today shared data based on a sample of 1.3 million impressions across its network, showing a click-through rate (CTR) of 1.187 percent on Android devices vs. a lowly 0.654 percent CTR on the iPhone. Clearly, Chitika’s large sample size offers credibility to the theory that Android users are more likely to click ads, but why are they doing so?

In a quick email exchange I had with Om earlier today, he suggested that Android devices could exhibit more ad clicks than iPhones because the interface isn’t nearly as smooth: It’s possible there are more mistaken ad clicks on Android as a result. I’d be more apt to agree if more Android phones were still on the 1.5 and 1.6 versions which have a far clunkier user interface, so I checked the Android target device dashboard, which tracks the version of Android devices when they hit the Android Market. The most recent data, as of Aug. 2, shows that 61.2 percent of the Android phones tracked are running the newer Android 2.1 or 2.2 versions, both of which offer an improved interface.

I can’t discount that a sub-par user interface could be creating unintentional ad clicks, but would it account for 80 percent more clicks? Perhaps, but I don’t think so, because mobile ads generally aren’t deceiving; when you see an advertisement on a phone, you generally recognize it for what it is. Given that Google’s history is rich in advertising and the science of optimizing it, I’m wondering if there’s some hot-spot algorithm or other ad-centric solution that gives the Android platform an advantage over others for advertisers.

Interestingly, the Android click-through rates that Chitika is seeing aren’t a one-off situation. Indeed, data from Smaato, another ad network, showed similar results in June with Android CTRs overtaking that of the iPhone, but still lagging behind Symbian and feature phones. Is it the interface, the platform, the type of users that Android attracts, or some combination of all three? It’s too early to tell, but well worth watching as Android continues to grow.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

  1. “When It Comes to Ads, Why Are Android Users Click-Happy?”

    Because we’re all really smart, active users, who understand the nature of a participatory culture, knowing our clicks mean revenue for the devs, and therefore app updates later.
    Because we’re so happy to be using an elegant, open mobile operating system we don’t mind giving the dev the 0.01 seconds it takes for a “click”.

    Conversely, when one is miserable ( after getting the iTunes sync error 9 times in a row, re-installing same app over and over with each device upgrade, then being forced to hold the phone in n awkward way so the download doesn’t get interrupted ) one isn’t in a generous mood.

    :P

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    1. You funny!

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  2. Android dweebs use their devices a lot more. Meanwhile the rest of the world uses their phones to complete a task or two and then get on with their life, which involves a LOT more sex than the freetarded gLoaders could even dream of. The rest of us will take binary sexes over binary numbers anyday!

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    1. Masturbation doesn’t count though.

      Oh come on, with attitude it’s not as if anyone is going to go within a million miles of you.

      Unless you’re a slut that is and evnen then only wearing a wetsuit and having a bath full of disenfectant afterwards.

      :)

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  3. “Open” LOL

    How can something be “open” when governed by respective telco gatekeepers?

    I refuse to support companies who:

    A. derives their only sustaining income through advertising/paid search

    B. proposes partnering up with Verizon to quash the OPEN Internet.

    So thanks to all the freetards for putting money in the coffers of those who would undermine Net Neutrality: jerks!

    “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.”

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  4. Having met a plethora of smartphone users I’ve noticed that generally my developer/programmer friends i.e. people who like getting their hands dirty, opt for Android devices and the rest of them, the designers & general public, opt for iphones.

    So without trying to risk offence I would suggest that Android users, because of their backgrounds/professions, are more likely to investigate relevant advertising because they are more likely to understand the associated risks.

    The latter group are possibly more wary of internet/mobile advertising because they don’t understand/mistrust it (rightly or wrongly) and are therefore less likely to click. Let’s face it the iphone is successful because it appeals to the general public, not the IT Crowd.

    I’m trying to put forward a theory to explain this and as with everything there are exceptions to the rule.

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    1. As a designer, I have a different opinion, but you are free to generalize…

      In creating applications for iPhone, my perspective is always to create actionable tasks. This is not exploratory per se. It guides a user both through an experience as well as to a goal. Advertisements and sideways diversions distract from the task at hand. Browsing, while good in Safari, is still better left to other devices.

      Using a Dell Streak to determine or establish my opinions on Android, I have found that my behavior differs markedly. First, it has a larger screen which may change my experience, but I feel that much of the OS is closer to a browsing experience as opposed to a strictly app experience. Imagine if iPhone users were restricted to Safari and web views. This experience doesn’t necessarily distract from a flow.

      This may change over time, as Android APIs become more sophisticated. But as with Blackberry, there is an implicit mode of behavior. On Android, I believe this is more analogous to surfing. I hop between apps more often. I read more (screen size?). I am in more of an informational as opposed to experiential mode.

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  5. It is possible to select an ad simply by moving the phone. During the World Cup, ads were plentiful, and perhaps they knew of this problem with Android phones.

    No, I have not ‘clicked’ on an ad intentionally.

    Now please tell me why WeatherBug has my location in Atuona, French Polynesia, when I am just north of Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

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  6. Hmmm. Let me guess. Maybe because the OS (Android) and the ads being served are both being controlled by the same company (Google) – so maybe, just maybe, Google is better positioned to serve more TARGETED ads to their own platform – generating higher CTR. (assumption – all ads on both platforms are being served by adsense).

    That aside, shouldn’t CPC matter more than CTR anyway? The CTR on my pages from certain countries is much higher than the CTR from US visitors – but the CPC – meaning $$ in my pocket – is much higher for US visitors.

    So maybe CTR is the wrong metric. All clicks are not created equal – but all you smart folks over here already knew that ;-)

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  7. [...] It is not clear why Android devices are ahead of the iPhone when it comes to getting consumer attention for ads, says Chitika. Android users show a click-through rate of 1.187 percent compared to 0.654 percent click-through rates on the iPhone. The lack of iPhone-like elegance in the Android’s interface could result in more user clicks–including those on mobile ads, says Gigaom. [...]

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  8. I have to agree with Morgan’s comment re: user behavior. But the article makes a point about the updated Android OS reducing the amount of accidental clicks. While the OS is certainly and important factor tests have proven that iPhones had superior touch technology built into the hardware (screen, sensors) than Android devices. So while my phone is running 2.1 there are plenty of times when it launches an app while I’m trying to navigate my screen or clicks on a link that doesn’t correspond to where I’m clicking simply because the hardware is not as precise. Having spent time with iPhones I have to admit the touch experience is vastly superior.

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  9. [...] Tuesday Gigaom published some interesting stats about Android user’s ad click-through rates & how they seem to be significantly higher than on other platforms: “…Android users [...]

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  10. A couple of the programs I use advertisement have buttons that don’t load as fast as I can click and I happen to accidently click a ad in place of a button that loads just a second after the advertisement. Where the ad will just slide a bit lower down the page view as soon ad the bronze appears. I call it developer trickery.

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