Mobile Ad Survey: Coupons Still King, Brands Mostly Missing the Boat

Mobile ad network HipCricket released its latest mobile advertising survey. The poll of 650 US mobile phone owners asked a range of questions about mobile advertising and device ownership. Among the survey respondents, 73% said they owned smartphones while 43% reported owning tablets.

These percentages are higher than US national averages, which are closer to 50% and 30% respectively. Among smartphone owners, the HipCricket survey was comprised of 43% iPhones, 38% Android handsets and 16% BlackBerry devices. 

The survey found that those with higher incomes were the most engaged with mobile advertising: 

  • 55% of those who have clicked on a mobile advertisement have an annual income of more than $75,000.
  • 29% of those who have clicked on a mobile advertisement have an income of more than $100,000.
  • 45% of those with an income of more than $75,000 have made a purchase as the result of a mobile ad.

Younger users (25-34) were also more engaged with mobile ads than the overall group. Among this group, 70% "have made a purchase as a direct result of a mobile ad." In addition 48% of these users "think more positively about their favorite brands after interacting with them via their mobile device," which was "significantly more than any other age group."

Below are a selection of the charts from the survey. The first one indicates the most frequently encountered mobile ad categories. SMS ads come in at a surprising number two, just above ads in mobile apps:  

Screen Shot 2012-07-31 at 7.47.48 AM

Just under a third of these users had redeemed a mobile coupon, although a substantial number hand "never engaged" with a mobile ad.

Screen Shot 2012-07-31 at 7.48.11 AM

The principal reason survey respondents did not click on or otherwise engage with mobile ads was due to a lack of perceived "relevance." Interestingly there were also several security related fears associated with mobile ads (spam, source uncertainty). This is an education problem for the industry. 

Screen Shot 2012-07-31 at 7.48.22 AM

Consistent with many past surveys, offers and coupons were a major incentive for consumers to respond to mobile ads. While many brands and agencies don't want mobile advertising to be "just about coupons," it's clear that offers drive engagement. 

Screen Shot 2012-07-31 at 7.48.31 AM

HipCricket also found that most respondents' "favorite brands" were not advertising in mobile. This is clearly a missed opportunity for the brands. 

Screen Shot 2012-07-31 at 7.48.50 AM

Finally, the survey found that a large majority of respondents had made a purchase after viewing a mobile ad. 

Screen Shot 2012-07-31 at 7.47.33 AM

While self-reported data must always be "taken with a grain of salt," these survey findings reinforce a considerable body of other data in the market showing that for younger, more educated and more affluent users mobile is now a critical medium. Yet brands and major advertisers continue to miss out on a significant opportunity to reach these audiences through their failure to aggressively pursue mobile.