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Marketers may be too interested in the concept of relevance, at least when it comes to mobile advertising, according to a recent Celtra-commissioned study [download page] conducted by Forrester Consulting. As the report reveals, brands believe that relevance is the most important factor in creating a better user experience with ads. But for smartphone owners it takes a back seat to the level of disruption the ad has on their current activity.

As part of the study, Forrester Consulting surveyed 1,000 smartphone owners in North America aged 18-47 who had seen a mobile ad in the prior 30 days. Among this group, 60% said that in order to create a positive mobile ad experience it was “very important” that the ad have a minimal level of disruption to their current activity. By comparison, just 42% said that it was very important that the ad be relevant to their interests.

In an accompanying survey of 100 digital marketing and media planning decision-makers at various large brands (with at least 1,000 employees), though, respondents ranked relevance over level of disruption in terms of providing a better overall user experience with ads.

Consumers’ preoccupation with the level of disruption speaks to general attitudes towards interruptive ads. For example, recent research from Neustar indicates that among 10 reasons for disliking a website, ads that interfere with content (55%) are the most commonly cited by consumers. Meanwhile, research from HubSpot finds that the most annoying mobile ads to internet users are those that pop over the entire screen.

Creating a positive mobile ad experience is important for brands, as these ads are likely to improve recognition of brand name (60%) and promote a favorable opinion of the brand advertised (51%) for a majority of smartphone owners surveyed. Not surprisingly, a negative mobile ad experience is unlikely to drive any desired actions from consumers.

There’s plenty of room for improvement, per the study, as only 27% of the ads consumers see on average in a typical day inspire a positive experience, as opposed to 30% creating a negative response and 43% eliciting no emotional response.

About the Data: Among the 1,000 smartphone owners surveyed, 23% are aged 18-24, 38% are aged 25-33 and the remaining 39% are aged 34-47. A majority (55%) are female, and 36% come from households with at least $75k in annual income.

Among the marketing professionals surveyed, 41% work at companies with at least 10,000 employees. The technology (23%) and financial services (19%) sectors were the most heavily represented.

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