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In-stream and Sidekick are preferred mobile ad formats

November 16, 2016 | By Rande Price, Research VP – DCN

Each year the mobile ad industry introduces new creative formats. These formats, both new and old, play an important role in the user’s experience and impact advertising effectiveness. To understand each ad format effect, Kargo, a mobile advertising platform, partnered with MediaScience, a neuroscience research firm, to analyze consumers’ responses to four mobile ad formats through their eye movements, biometric responses and attitudinal changes.

The research found that bigger ad formats are not always better on mobile and In-Stream and Sidekick ad units offer both strong consumer appeal and higher ad effectiveness. Interestingly, while Interstitial ads appear to offer higher brand recognition than Adhesions and Sidekicks, they also over-indexed as disruptive, annoying and intrusive.

Key findings from the study also include:

  • Adhesion units (adheres to the bottom of the screen and stays with users as they scroll down the page) are viewed as the most common mobile ad unit, and are easily avoided by users. While Adhesions are perceived as less intrusive than Interstitials, they received much less visual attention than all other tested ad formats.
  • In-Stream units (appears within the stream of editorial content) provide users with the opportunity to focus on mobile ads at their own discretion. In-Stream units perform similarly to Interstitials in visual attention, but outperform them in visual retention. In-Stream units are not thought of as disruptive, annoying, or intrusive.
  • Interstitial ads (served between content pages) appear to have received the most negative biometric response and negative ad evaluations. They are viewed as disruptive, annoying, intrusive and not well-placed.
  • Kargo’s Sidekick unit (a silhouette appended to the side of the screen, provides continued visual attention) performed like the other ad formats in visual attention without annoying the user. The Sidekick ad unit, like In-Stream, ranked best among users in terms of overall liking of the ads.

Overall, results of this study suggest that In-Stream and Sidekick units may be the most effective for mobile advertising, among the four ad formats. Both ads hold visual attention and are memorable without the intrusiveness of Interstitials. It’s important to connect both the rational and emotional appeal so the ad attains positive attention and offers users the freedom of managing their environment.


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