Study: Mobile Users Want to Be Paid for Their Attention

A new study jointly conducted by Millward Brown and mobile loyalty platform SessionM finds that consumers want a clear "value exchange" or "tangible benefits" for their time and attention to mobile ads. The study was fielded earlier this year among two survey groups of 500 US adults and combined with qualitative follow-up interviews.

A primary finding of the study, which echoes Nielsen "consumer trust" data from previous research, is that only 9% of users have a favorable view of mobile ads. Despite their typically superior performance on brand and other KPIs, consumers generally report unfavorable views of mobile advertising in surveys such as the SessionM-Millward Brown study: 

The study argues that mobile ads need to deliver "tangible value" in order to gain consumer engagement. When they do they can outperform other types of digital and mobile advertising. SessionM says that tangible value has three components: "being useful, entertaining and worth the time it takes to engage." 

What this means as a practical matter, according to the study, is offering a literal reward for consumer attention (e.g., coupons, points), although people respond to other types of "incentives" as well as ads that are more "relevant" (e.g., local, personalized). 

The following were the preferred reward types according to the survey:

  1. Gift cards
  2. Coupon or discount of your choice
  3. Coupon or discount selected for you
  4. Tickets for Events
  5. Points towards contest entries
  6. Donations to Charity
  7. Virtual Currency
  8. Access to ad free environment
  9. Access to free videos or songs
  10. Access to free games
  11. Access to exclusive content

Essentially people are saying they want to be paid to look at and engage with mobile ads. It's important to note that the study argues in favor of the types of advertising and marketing that SessionM provides: incentive and reward-based mobile loyalty programs. However other data show that consumers do respond to coupons and discounts at higher rates than other categories of mobile advertising.