About 47 percent of app users say they are more apt to click a mobile ad by mistake than they do on purpose, according a survey by lead gen provider Pontiflex and researcher Harris Interactive. The online survey, taken in two parts in December involving over 4,000 mobile app users, is yet another suggestion that clicks are not necessarily the best measurement of effectiveness, which is notable considering the relatively nascent stage of the app economy.
In terms of the largest group of mobile app users, those between the ages of 18-34, 61 percent admitted that they clicked or tapped on a mobile ad more often by accident than on purpose.
Not surprisingly, the report’s findings show that in-app ads, those which don’t take the user out of the app to a mobile wap site, tend to be more appreciated. As this week’s Gartner forecast showed, download revenues for the mobile app market is growing — this year, developers will generate $15 billion in revenues on downloads of more than 17 billion. The Gartner report also showed that the clear majority of 81 percent of all mobile application store downloads in 2011 will still be free, although the percentage has been declining since 2008.
Still, the Gartner numbers mean that advertising will be a significant aspect of the app economy. So with half of mobile app ads apparently not working, what does? In an interview with paidContent, Pontiflex’s CEO Zephrin Lasker and Brian Long, VP of Mobile, points to in-app ads as the best answer.
“The real estate of app ads is too small, and it’s too easy to click accidentally,” Lasker said. “If you are a mobile marketer, why would you run a [cost-per-click] campaign? Steve Jobs was right: keep people in the app. The problem with the approach of a lot of mobile advertising is that the old online model has been transferred to the mobile device. ”
Aside from lowering the likelihood of accidental clicks, the value of in-app ads is the promise of “engagement,” something that more lucrative branding dollars are based on. “When a user signs into an in-app ad and shares their information, that’s the ultimate opt-in and proof of engagement,” said, Long.
Some of the other highlights of the survey:
— 71 percent of mobile app users state that they prefer ads that keep them within the mobile app they are using, instead of ads that take them out of the app to a mobile web browser; this further reinforces the need for mobile advertising to move away from a model based on clicks.
— 95 percent of mobile app users use free apps and 41 percent use paid apps.
— 96 percent of mobile apps users with household income of $75K-plus said they use free apps.
As for Pontiflex, mobile in-app advertising is roughly 25-, 30 percent of its inventory. Lasker said that with the continued growth of both Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and especially Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Android, that number could rise to 50 percent of Pontiflex’s inventory being comprised of mobile ads. However, though some advertisers have found fault with Apple’s tightly controlled, very expensive iAds system, there are also some problems with Android, Lasker said. “Initially all Android advertising was based on a single click,” he said. “However, of late, Google has introduced a new model in which users asked to confirm if they intended to click on an ad. This kind of forward thinking will prevent advertisers getting charged for accidental clicks and is good for the industry as a whole.”