Consumers Mostly Click Mobile Ads by Accident

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Philadelphia department store magnate John Wanamaker once said that he knew 50% of the money he spent on advertising was wasted — he just didn’t know which 50%. Companies that purchase mobile ads are faring even worse than Wanamaker

Most smartphone users rarely or never click on a mobile because they want more information about the product — they click the ads by accident. In every age group, more than 60% say they never intentionally click on an ad.

The research was reported Tuesday by eMarketer based on a survey of more than 1,100 U.S. smartphone users between the ages of 18 and 73. Results were reported for millennials (ages 18 to 34), GenXers (ages 35 to 54) and baby boomers (ages 55 to 73). The survey was conducted by research firms Button and App Annie.

Among millennials, 42% rarely click a mobile ad on purpose and 17% say they never do. GenXers are even tougher for ad masters: 46% rarely click an ad intentionally and 18% never do. The toughest group of all is boomers: 49% rarely click an ad deliberately while 24% never do.

The situation is not quite as bad for advertisements promoting other mobile apps. According to the research, just over half (52%) of respondents did intentionally click on an ad promoting another mobile app. But that’s down from 57% who did so just two years ago. And among those who did click on an ad for a mobile app, just 44% actually downloaded the app.

eMarketer also cited Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) data collected earlier this year revealing that nearly half (47%) of smartphone users polled worldwide said they took some sort of action after seeing an ad in a mobile app, while slightly fewer (45%) did so after seeing a mobile web ad. Even so, only 10% clicked on the ad.