differentology’s study to save mobile advertising

differentology’s study to save mobile advertising


A differentology study on behalf of IAB has revealed how brands can save their ads from the ad blockers.

The study will have a huge impact on mobile strategy for many brands on a platform that rises insignificance with every handset sold.

differentology, our resident research geniuses, used a three-stage process of a consumer diary, a national survey, and consumer interviews to collect the insights.

And in true differentology style there was a superhero parody animation to go with it.

According to Dan Brilot, head of digital at differentology: “This was a really important and fascinating project to work on. It fused the talents of creativity, research and insight to deliver on a ground-breaking project which will provide  guidance to media owners, agencies and advertisers on best practice on mobile advertising formats for years to come” 

What did they discover?

According to the study, 10% of people in the UK currently use an ad blocker on their smartphone – 63% of that number are millenials.

This will be no surprise to anybody familiar with the rise of ad blocking software on desktop web browsers, a situation that has lead many online publishers to restrict access to visitors who block ads.

Just as bad practice and ubiquitous, relentless ads were the culprit for browser ads, they’re the cause of ad blocking on mobile too.

However, differentology’s study goes beyond identifying the problem and the culprit, and moves into insights and solutions to help advertisers deal with the problem.

Keep it simple, fun and short

Most people (four in five) accept that ads keep the majority of their online content free to access.

The study reveals that people don’t hate ads, despite the rise of the ad blockers.

People hate not having control of the user experience. For ads, that could be a lack of an obvious “skip” button or X, ads that totally take over the screen (78% “can’t stand” that), or generally obscuring the content the user actually wants to see.

The study also identified six ‘personas’ for the different varieties of mobile ad that make up the marketing mix on the platform (you can see them in the video).

Mix it up

“Each format has a role to play and using a mix of high impact ads alongside standard ones, such as MPUs, will ensure you grab consumer attention without annoying them. This improves the ad experience, resulting in more effective campaigns and less reasons to block ads,” said Mike Reynolds, the IAB UK’s Mobile and Video Manager.

  • Standard Banner: “The Soldier” – Simple. Reliable. Well-liked. Never outstanding or exciting. Favoured by older users, and people online less frequently.
  • Rich Media Banner: “The Star” – Everyone’s favourite. Engaging. Creative. Choice to pass or engage fully
  • Pre-Roll Video: “New Kid on the Block” – Interruptive. Engaging. Creative. Liked by Millennials
  • In-Read: “Team Jester” – Interruptive. Preferred by younger audience. Very engaging, especially with short-form content (social)
  • MPU: “Loyal Help” – Accepted by consumers. Not as engaging. Easy to miss
  • Interstitial: “Reckless Hero” – Extremely engaging. Communicative. Can be annoying. Present a clear exit

“Getting mobile ads right is a delicate balance,” continued Reynolds. “For instance, ads with higher impact can be more annoying, while relevant ads based on location or behaviour are welcomed but may raise privacy concerns. With higher impact comes higher risk but the golden rules involve common sense – don’t hijack the user experience and don’t omit, or make it difficult to find, the ad close/skip button, which inevitably annoys people.”

High five!

The team who worked on the project are: Mark J, Dan, Lizzie, Jim, Hannah, Jozef, Oeil, Ryan and Frazer.



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