Poor network speeds, click fraud and user error are distorting mobile ad campaign metrics, with half of all clicks failing to reach their destination, according to new research.
The study, from mobile ad-serving firm S4M, tracked and analysed multiple mobile ad campaigns across Europe, Asia and the US in May 2014.
In total over one billion ad impressions were analysed across tablets, iOS only and campaigns based on mixed mobile devices, providing detailed performance information against key metrics including click-through-rates, visit-through rates and impression-to-visit rates.
The study reveals that the proportion of clicks that arrive at their destination is as low as 50 per cent for ads on mobile only inventory. This means that half of all clicks do not reach their intended destination. Whilst nobody expects mobile stats to be on a par with what we are used to in desktop web environments (because the technology to get ads onto devices is much more complex and fragmented), a drop off of 50% is certainly a cause for alarm.
This figure improves for tablet only campaigns with 35 per cent of clicks not arriving, whilst iOS only targeted campaigns show a 40 per cent drop-off, still a much higher figure than most advertisers would want to see.
When analysing this issue at the publisher level, there was considerable variance with the drop-off ranging from an average of under 30 per cent to over 60 per cent. However within each publisher there was a wider spread at placement level so it can be deduced that this is more of a placement level issue than a publisher specific one.
The three main reasons for this poor performance include:
1. Fat finger syndrome or user click error, explained by the difficulty of designing ad creative units that fit on the small screen
2. Slow network speeds causing the user path between click and arrival to be abandoned, evidenced by the improved view-through rates for tablet based campaigns (where the user is more likely to be in a faster, WiFi environment).
3. Click fraud where some placements are clicked on by automated bots and counted as a click, but the arrival does not register.
Christophe Collet, founder and CEO at S4M said: “Whilst mobile ad-spend continues to grow, our study shows that there is room for significant improvement in the deeper understanding of where the best campaign value lies. In particular advertisers need to use independent third party tracking to allow them to gain transparency in the ad value chain.
“Spending budget on clicks that never arrive is budget wasted. Every point in the consumer journey needs to be analysed to provide a clear picture of campaign performance to enable real optimisation. Whilst the visit-through rate is one example of this, other metrics such as actual app installs, or repeat users for example, will help media buyers and planners pin optimisation to metrics that illustrate the lifecycle of a user and the real ROI of a mobile ad campaign.”