Apps have the potential to make powerful connections with their users. With consumers visiting entertainment, sports, news and gaming apps between two and four times a day, spending around an hour on them in total, there is ample opportunity for advertisers to make the most of this highly targeted channel.
Apps are perceived as a very intimate part of the mobile user experience, heightened by the fact that some apps are highly bespoke. This can give the impression that in-app advertising is intrusive and breaks a trusted contract, each app with its own digital Gandalf intimating that advertisers “shall not pass!” But if done well, the opposite can be true. In-app advertising has the potential to enhance — rather than interrupt — users’ experience.
Google’s research into how users react to in-app advertising bears this out. Surveying users’ app habits and their opinions of ads shown within them, consumers seem, overall, to find the in-app advertising experience more informative, better quality and less intrusive than desktop equivalents.
- Ads in apps are more memorable: More viewers remembered details about the ad and also the brand it was for, than on desktop.
- Stronger reactions: Users felt closer to the companies advertising than they did seeing ads on desktop.
- Inspired action: More people clicked through, enquired over the phone or recommended products to friends after seeing an ad in an app as opposed to on a desktop.
- Better experience: App users felt in-app ads interfered less with the content they were viewing and were also more visually appealing than desktop ads.
It’s clear there are a number of benefits for both the advertiser and the user when it comes to in-app advertising, particularly when it comes to control over the experience. Unlike mobile web, the app experience isn’t impacted by slow loading speeds. Advertisers have the opportunity to craft interesting, immersive experiences without having to account for bandwidth or mobile coverage.
The app experience also tends to be more closely curated to the users’ needs. So, when an ad is shown that is also highly targeted, it creates a more symbiotic experience. Visually, there is an opportunity to create ads that are more native in style and tone to the app, creating a contextual link and stopping the transition from ad to content being jarring.
In-app advertising is the ideal way to cut through the clutter. App users venture into these curated universes to kick back and relax, enjoying information and entertainment pre-selected for them. They are using apps for specific tasks, making targeting and tailoring ads to specific customer segments simple.
In past years, advertisers have had reasonable concerns that the in-app ad marketplace was perhaps too specialized, too niche for their mass-market, broad-spectrum customer bases. Today, app usage spans a vast range of demographics and interest groups. Some mirror the accessibility of web and even traditional media platforms, including news, entertainment and sports apps:
- Women are as likely to play games as men: 40% of women compared with 41% of men using gaming apps. The largest number of gamers (50%) is among those aged 18-34.
- App users are decision-makers: They’re no different to the demographics using smartphones in general – they’re just as likely to be employed, educated and affluent, with 73% saying they are the main shopper in the family.
- App users are everybody: 90% of smartphone users use apps, regardless of age or gender.
Mobile apps are no longer the preserve of a dedicated few. They are immersive, at once utilitarian and fanciful; they complement rather than contradict the mobile web experience and, as such, serve a vital role in connecting users. Advertising is a part of that connection and, done well, serves to support and enhance customer experience, not damage it. There are untapped opportunities for brands if you know where to look.