January 21, 2010

Commentary : Mobile Web Beats Mobile App

Continental Airlines recently placed ads on a mobile website (whitepages.com) and inside the directory's iPhone application. 

Which did better?

The ad on the mobile website.

This finding is no surprise to BuzzCity.  We've long argued that mobile consumers are not likely to respond to advertisements in applications.  They're too busy enjoying the app to click-through.  Having a banner that "allows for in-app interaction" (presumably pre-game or inter-level ads) is not likely to improve response rates either.  Once again, users are not interested in something that interrupts their application experience.

Advertising within an application does have a function.  Just as brands place their products in movies and TV shows, advertising within a mobile application can improve branding.  However for sales -- and a clear return on investment -- mobile website ads can not be beat.  Application developers meanwhile will monetise their apps through sponsorships and sales via efficient distribution networks.

The MediaPost Publications study is wrong on one point - the authors argue that "high-priced items like airline tickets are still a tough sell on mobile".  Our experience clearly shows this is not the case.  Just take a look at Sri Lankan Airlines, which has very successfully promoted its fares and sold tickets via mobile ads.