It is kind of obvious that when consumers swipe through photos of shoes or flight deals on their smartphone, that they do not want to have to keep clicking that tiny little cross in the corner to exit another pop-up ad. Whether it is car insurance, wrinkle potion or the offer of a ‘local date’, self-initiating ads can be a pain – but just how much do they dislike them?

According to a new study analysing consumer attitudes to digital communication methods, conducted by in-content digital advertising company Vibrant Media, eight out of 10 people (79%) are annoyed by ads which self-initiate on their handheld device. A total of 45% of respondents actually felt ‘very annoyed’ by this.

Nearly half of consumers (48%) said they feel least in control of ads on smartphones and tablets – ahead of social media, browsing the internet, instant messaging, email, text messaging, and making and taking phone calls.

The research highlights the disparity between widely implemented digital marketing methods and consumer preferences, ‘hindering the performance of advertising on handheld devices’, said UK sales director at Vibrant Media, Tom Pepper.

Respect Consumer & Device

“Consumers want to feel empowered by their digital content experience, not annoyed,” Pepper said.

“Many mobile ad formats are interruptive – which our study shows 35% of consumers find ‘annoying’ and 45% ‘very annoying’ – or triggered in error, which over half of our respondents said was most often the case.

“To build meaningful relationships with consumers, brands need to deliver a positive user experience, which means using ad formats which respect the consumer and their device.”

A total of 51% say they mostly initiate ads on their mobile devices by mistake and two thirds of smartphone and tablet users prefer advertising they initiate on their own. A whopping 77% of consumers feel least in control on their mobile phones.

Vibrant Media also discovered that two thirds (68%) of major publishers lack a site that renders properly on mobile devices. These non-optimised sites often deploy ad formats intended for desktop browsing, which on smaller-screen devices either display so largely they disrupt users’ content consumption, or so small they are ineffective, which makes them a wasted asset for both publishers and brands.

Pepper stressed that publishers and advertisers need to adopt ‘nimbler formats’ that work with the small format display, that respect the consumer, respond to the consumer’s device and enhance rather than compromise the consumer’s experience.

Disruptive Forces at Large

“When consumers are out and about using their mobile phone or tablet they don’t want to be interrupted by irrelevant or disruptive forces beyond their control, and marketers who use such methods can actually harm users’ opinions of the brand being advertised,” Pepper added.

“Marketers have to change their approach and recognise the need to deploy more relevant ads which sit nimbly and natively in the content displayed on handheld screens – and only launch when the user chooses to engage with an ad. They need to move towards giving consumers the controls they so clearly desire.”

The Vibrant Media survey, which was conducted by online panel and survey-technology provider, Toluna, was completed by 1,000 people from across the UK.