Chitika Mobile Ad Study Draws Wrong Conclusion

Chitika’s Study of Mobile Ad Click Through Rate
Dreadfully Draws the Wrong Conclusion

Last week Chitika, an online advertising network, released a study of mobile vs. non-mobile click through rates on their advertising units. You can read their press release about the study here.

Based on 92 million ads shown (1.3 million of them seen with mobile browsers) they reported that the desktop ads got a click through rate of 0.83%, while the “mobile ads” as a whole pulled a mere 0.48%.

I added the quotes on the words “mobile ads” because these were not mobile ads at all. Rather these were the exact same ads that were built for desktop computers but shown on mobile devices.

The conclusion drawn by Chitika and dozens of bloggers and writers who covered the story is that mobile ads don’t get the same click through response as desktop ads.

Here’s the flaw in the logic of this…

The Chitika study actually reveals that mobile users are not likely to click on desktop ads shown on their mobile device. That is an entirely different thing than saying that mobile users are not clicking on mobile ads.

These are different devices and require different strategies. You cannot simply force desktop ads onto mobile devices and then cry out that no one is clicking on them. It doesn’t make sense.

That would be like airing an audio only ad created for radio on TV and then claiming that radio ads don’t work as well as television commercials. Or like running a black and white ad designed for newspaper in a four color glossy magazine and stating that newspaper ads don’t work as well as magazine ads.

Mobile and desktop Internet use is completely different. Mobile advertising is not just desktop advertising made smaller. Mobile advertising is a different media channel than Internet advertising.

What the Chitika study really taught us is not that mobile users don’t click on ads, but that mobile users require ads specifically created for mobile use in order to click on them.


  1. Great points Kim and it’s very important to continue evangelizing this.

    There’s great hesitancy about clicking on mobile banner and application ads because consumers are getting poor “post click” experiences. More often than not they end up on full web pages or data collection forms that don’t enable the right (or any!) consumer response.

    Including the ad itself, marketers need to step up and consider the entire mobile consumer experience, making sure that their content looks good on the majority of devices, is easy for users to access, and is well-integrated with existing online content.

  2. Kim,

    Your conclusion is completely correct that mobile is different. I can’t believe how niave this study is. I too have used the analogy of Radio not translating well to TV.

    A couple of links to posts that I have made on mobile approach and mobile advertising.

    Mobile local: the value, the players, the potential winners:

    Mobile advertising needs to recognise communication and social aspects:


  3. Right on the money… interestingly, isn’t web (computer-based) advertising Chitika’s business? Data can be positioned in a number of ways to tell what ever message one wants, but this is clearly a poor position of these results. It’s reminiscent of the early days of the web when clients took their print brochure and reproduced it exactly online and wondered why people weren’t reading the entire thing. Duh!

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