Carrying a reputation for sluggish page loads, ‘laggy’ scrolling and disruptive browsing, mobile display ads are a point of contention among most users.

However, a study of 1,200 UK adults has found that ‘fit for purpose ads’ – or those optimised specifically for smartphones – can shift brand metrics and increase the brand being viewed as more premium and trusted. Advertisers that don’t tailor their ads for mobile, meanwhile, are likely to create annoyance among the majority of users (78%).

Among the findings, the IAB UK found that 84% of UK adults are open to advertising – preferring to access online content for free in exchange for viewing ads as opposed to paying for an ad-free experience – it’s not just the advertisers who stand to lose out if ads are not executed well.

Research showed that when seeing a bad or poorly designed smartphone ad, over a third (37%) of respondents blamed the website or platform, while 33% blamed the advertised brand.

Quick fixes

When it came to quick fixes, such as testing optimised and non-optimised assets to improving user’s brand perspective, the study found a statistically significant percentage increase in several key brand metrics including preference (+44%), brand consideration (+56%), likelihood to find out more (+50%), trust (+33%) and perception of premium (+21%) for the smartphone-optimised ads.

Meanwhile, shorter optimised online video ads were more likely to be watched in full and perceived as creative, engaging and attention-grabbing, and left people feeling as happy when compared to longer 30-second TV ads.

“Let’s be clear, experience matters,” said Nathan Cook, global director of advertising innovation at Unilever Global Marketing; “Most people don’t dislike advertising, they dislike bad advertising experiences.

“In a time where it has never been more important to respect context and provide value in return for people’s attention, being fit for purpose is undoubtedly a win-win for advertisers and the user.”

In order to for ad creators to maximise their chances of currying favour with consumers, the IAB UK recommends thinking about how ads will be executed on smartphones at the onset of the creative process, include brand messaging upfront from the start of the ad and test ads on different screen sizes to ensure imagery and text is clear.