Two new studies look at what kinds of campaigns, mobile ad formats work best

mobile ads

(Credit: MobileFuse)

Since the birth of advertising, marketers have been trying to figure out how such messaging might work best. This week, two new studies presented at the Ad Week conference in New York City offer a few hints.

The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) released its study, “How Advertising Works Today,” which focused on the best strategy for campaigns in this multi-platform world. It analyzed as many as 5000 campaigns (depending on the research issue) for TV, print, radio, and digital (including mobile) in 45 countries.

Here are the five key findings:

  • “Spending across multiple platforms delivers greater ROI than investing in single platforms.” For example, a campaign across two platforms generally delivers 19 percent more return-on-investment than on one platform. For three platforms, it’s 23 percent more; for five, 35 percent.


  • “There is actually a “kicker effect” when television is added back to digital spending.” Digital plus TV, the report found, can increase ROI 60 percent.
  • “This is also true for millennials who consume both traditional and new media.” Even for consumers aged 18 to 24, for instance, the optimal mix was found to be 71 percent traditional media (TV, radio, print) and 29 percent digital (including video, display and paid search). In other words, it’s not just mobile.
  • “’Silo investing’ in some digital formats too heavily can have diminishing returns and even cause sales to decline.” However, this finding was derived primarily from banner desktop ads — not exactly the most engaging format.
  • And the most impact for creative comes from an approach that is unified/connected across platforms, but tailored to each platform. “When campaigns are unified [creatively] across platforms,” ARF SVP Dr. Manuel Garcia-Garcia told the audience at the presentation, “memory activation is enhanced.”

And mobile ad firm Kargo released a report on mobile ads it called “Captivate vs. Aggravate,” to summarize the two biggest reactions by users.

The intent was to discover which of four formats offered the best results to marketers. The four formats examined: the Adhesion Banner; the In-Stream Banner; the Interstitial; and Kargo’s own Sidekick.

Conducted in conjunction with neuroscience research firm MediaScience, the study examined rational and emotional responses in a lab environment that tracked eye movements, heart rate, electrodermal activity (i.e., skin moisture) and changes in attitudes, the latter measured by a questionnaire.

Here are the four ad formats, and the top-level results:

The Adhesion Banner, which stays in one place on the screen:

From Kargo/MediaScience

From Kargo/MediaScience

The In-Stream Banner, which occupies a persistent position within an editorial feed:

From Kargo/MediaScience

From Kargo/MediaScience

The Interstitial, which takes over the screen:

From Kagro/MediaScience

From Kargo/MediaScience

And Kargo’s own Sidekick format, which is a small, expandable ad that sits in a corner of a screen:

From Kagro/MediaScience

From Kargo/MediaScience

To no one’s surprise, the Adhesion Banner scores “sub-standard results,” with “fewer people [looking] at these banners for less time than all other formats.” Interstitials, since they are screen grabbers, were considered annoying and the attention they attracted appeared to be mostly people looking for the “x” to close the ad.

In-Stream Banners got positive results, which Kargo/MediaScience said was because they were small and user-controlled.

And, as luck would have it, the format with the most positive results was the Sidekick ad, which is inconspicuous and also user-controllable. But the fact that they are exclusive to Kargo raises questions about whether the study was really a kind of ad in itself.

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