More than half (53%) of UK smartphone owners say they have never received adverts while using their device, which either suggests that it is an underused marketing channel or consumers find it easy to ignore mobile advertising.
The findings come from Nielsen’s Mobile Consumer Report, which found that 97% of the UK population owns a mobile phone, with smartphone ownership now at 61%.
And according to the IAB, mobile advertising grew by 132% to £181.5m in the first half of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011 and now accounts for 7% of all digital ad spend.
Therefore it appears to be a fairly worrying situation for mobile advertisers if 53% of smartphone owners claim they haven’t been exposed to mobile advertising, though it does need to be noted that the survey didn’t ask about mobile search.
It’s likely that a proportion of the users surveyed by Nielsen are simply unaware that they have seen mobile ads, so advertisers need to find new ways of ensuring their messages don’t go unnoticed.
But being noticed obviously isn’t a good thing if ads become intrusive, with a separate Forrester survey finding that mobile ads are deemed to be more annoying than TV ads.
Nielsen’s report also asked UK respondents which kinds of mobile ads they receive most often. The most common answer was ads shown while using the mobile web (27%), followed by streaming music/radio (26%) and online games (25%).
A quarter of respondents (24%) said they had been exposed to ads in apps, while 17% had received marketing text messages or watching mobile video, and just 10% had seen ads in a location-based/GPS service.
According to the report, UK consumers are among the most resistant to mobile ads when compared to other nations.
Just 15% of respondents said that they are more likely to click on ads that incorporate multimedia elements, ranking UK consumers along side Australians as the least likely to be swayed by multimedia ads.
The average across the 10 nations included in the survey was 29%, with Indians proving most susceptible to multimedia ads (52%) followed by Brazilians (41%) and Chinese (38%).
UK respondents were also among the least likely to say they were happy to provide personal information in order to receive targeted ads (14% vs. 27% average) or ads that use GPS to give information relevant to their location (26% vs. 36% average).
Attitudes to mobile advertising (click to enlarge)