Ads in mobile apps: Half are clicked accidentally

Summary:Ads in apps are nothing new, and a recent survey found that about half of them that get clicked by users are clicked by accident. Not very many sales can be happening that way.

Ads in apps are nothing new, and a recent survey found that about half of them that get clicked by users are clicked by accident. That bears repeating for those whose business plans rely on revenue generated by ad-supported free apps: almost half of ads clicked in apps are done by accident. I am not an advertising expert, but it's pretty clear to me that ads clicked by accident don't end up in sales.

The problem is due to small phone screens that don't leave much room for error. My clumsy fingers can attest to how easy it is to tap something on the phone screen, only to have the dreaded ad get clicked. The feeling of stupidity for the error is quickly replaced by anger at the app developer for putting the ad there in the first place. That anger turns to fury if the ad inside the app I am using takes me out of the app. The browser opens and takes over the phone, so the company behind the ad can try to sell me something.

With half of the clicks done in error, many of you have probably made the same mistake. You are particularly exposed to the "bad ad tap" syndrome if you're one of the millions who use an Android phone. Many app developers offer their Android apps for free, with ads tucked away to make the developer some money. The truth is that if so many ad taps are spurious, then in-app ad revenue is in essence a house of cards. Someone has to ultimately buy something to make the money paid for ads worth something, and it sounds like that's not what's happening. The mobile ad industry may be in for a rude awakening as advertisers figure this out.

Image credit: Flickr User Steve Snodgrass

Topics: Mobility


James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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