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Kim Dushinski

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Chitika’s Study of Mobile Ad Click Through Rate
Dreadfully Draws the Wrong Conclusion

Last week Chitika, an online advertising network, released a study of mobile vs. non-mobile click through rates on their advertising units. You can read their press release about the study here.

Based on 92 million ads shown (1.3 million of them seen with mobile browsers) they reported that the desktop ads got a click through rate of 0.83%, while the “mobile ads” as a whole pulled a mere 0.48%.

I added the quotes on the words “mobile ads” because these were not mobile ads at all. Rather these were the exact same ads that were built for desktop computers but shown on mobile devices.

The conclusion drawn by Chitika and dozens of bloggers and writers who covered the story is that mobile ads don’t get the same click through response as desktop ads.

Here’s the flaw in the logic of this…

The Chitika study actually reveals that mobile users are not likely to click on desktop ads shown on their mobile device. That is an entirely different thing than saying that mobile users are not clicking on mobile ads.

These are different devices and require different strategies. You cannot simply force desktop ads onto mobile devices and then cry out that no one is clicking on them. It doesn’t make sense.

That would be like airing an audio only ad created for radio on TV and then claiming that radio ads don’t work as well as television commercials. Or like running a black and white ad designed for newspaper in a four color glossy magazine and stating that newspaper ads don’t work as well as magazine ads.

Mobile and desktop Internet use is completely different. Mobile advertising is not just desktop advertising made smaller. Mobile advertising is a different media channel than Internet advertising.

What the Chitika study really taught us is not that mobile users don’t click on ads, but that mobile users require ads specifically created for mobile use in order to click on them.

Google Mobile Adwords
Mobile Marketing Association Mobile Advertising Guidelines
Nokia Media Network
Quattro Wireless GetMobile
Third Screen Media


Perry Marshall and Bryan Todd, Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords
(Entrepreneur Press, 2006)

If you are not up to speed on what is happening in the mobile advertising space (or even if you are) this video is well worth watching – to the end.

You’ll find out about how AdMob got funded in a day, get Omar Hamoui’s take on the future of the mobile web and get to see an AdMob ad go live. This is the part near the end that you REALLY WANT TO SEE.

So, what did you think?