No doubt it is the first thing you look at when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you see before you go to sleep: your mobile phone. Imagine when checking the weather app before you leave the house a banner pops-up showing an ad for a new movie. What will be the chance that this banner will have any effect on you?
Mobile phones have become a part of our lives. According to eMarketer (2015a) US adults spend an average of 3 hours per day on mobile devices. Therefore, it is not surprising that global spending on mobile advertising has been rapidly growing up to more than $100 billion in 2016 (eMarketer, 2015b). Marketers want to grab the opportunity to capture your attention while browsing on your phone. However, marketers are not very happy with the effectiveness of their mobile advertising campaigns. Most of the time, they do not know what they are doing and are using a so-called ‘spray-and-pray’ mentality.
Because of the large-scale investments that are being made in mobile advertising, a better understanding of factors affecting mobile advertising campaign performance is needed. This is where Bart et al. (2014) saw an opportunity for research. Their main question is: ‘Under what product-related conditions are mobile display advertisements effective in changing consumers’ product related attitudes and purchase intentions?’.
Bart et al. (2014) used a multi-campaign, multi-industry data set from a large U.S. market research agency. 39,946 consumers participated in their field study and completed a questionnaire about products featured in 54 mobile display ads from 2007 to 2010. This large and double mixed data set is one of the main strengths of the paper. The authors estimated Average Treatment Effects (the difference between the mean attitude or intention ratings in the exposed and control conditions) for attitude and intention, moderated by product involvement (high or low) and product type (utilitarian or hedonic).
The most striking result from their study is that mobile display advertisements tend to only be effective for products that are both utilitarian and have high involvement, such as washing machines and family cars. These ads, on average, increased positive attitude by 4.5% and intention to buy by 6.7%, while hedonic and low involvement product ads (such as a sports car or toilet paper) had no effect.
An underlying psychological reason for this result is that high involvement goods are relevant and consumers are likely to have retained information about them. Even though mobile display ads do not include a lot of information they do have the ability to influence consumers by triggering their memory about a product that has already been assessed. In addition, a higher involvement with the product tends to be processed cognitively rather than emotionally, which is why mobile display ads work better for utilitarian products rather than hedonic products.
The main managerial implications of this study are that given a product, marketers can now better understand whether a mobile display ad will be effective or not. Also, given the decision of a marketer to invest in a mobile display advertisement campaign, they can have a better sense of what product to use and how to position this product in order to maximize campaign effectiveness.
So after reading these results and interesting findings, what do you think, will a banner on your phone showing a movie ad have an effect on you?
Bart, Y., Stephen, A. T., & Sarvary, M. (2014). Which products are best suited to mobile advertising? A field study of mobile display advertising effects on consumer attitudes and intentions. Journal of Marketing Research, 51(3), 270-285.
eMarketer (2015a) Growth of Time Spent on Mobile Devices Slows available at: https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Growth-of-Time-Spent-on-Mobile-Devices-Slows/1013072
eMarketer (2015b) Mobile Ad Spend to Top 100 Billion Worldwide in 2016, 51% of Digital Market available at: (https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Mobile-Ad-Spend-Top-100-Billion-Worldwide-2016-51-of-Digital-Market/1012299