Any smartphone owner who’s downloaded a handful of apps will acknowledge the advertising that is present on most free apps. They are very much like banner ads on regular (i.e. non-mobile) web sites. And my guess is that they get about the same amount of intentional clicks, if not fewer. My personal theory is that mobile ads receive clicks (taps on a touch screen) because:
1) they are tapped accidentally,
2) new smartphone owners are tapping on things just to see how they work
These clicks are not from people truly interested in the product or service being promoted. Again, only a personal theory.
So, like many smartphone owners I’ve downloaded a free alarm clock app, which has ads. And true to my theory, I accidentally tapped this ad from CSD (Central Security Distributors) who apparently sells security systems from Paradox:
Here’s what I got. Keep in mind this is an offer for security products.
Whoa! Wait a minute. A security warning on a site that sells security products? Yikes.
If you look behind the certificate you’ll see the other, more common problem: a non-mobile web site. Even if I did continue in spite of the warning I’d be in for a terrible experience at a full web site that has shrunk itself to the size of my phone screen. No way.
What could have saved this campaign?
The problems with this campaign stem from, I believe, a single point of failure. This is an Adwords campaign. You can tell by the Google+ “+1″ stuff off to the left of the ad and the arrow that points to the right indicating that you will be going somewhere, which is Google’s way of letting you know you’ll be ‘taken somewhere.’
Here’s what happened: whoever set up the Adwords campaign for CSD didn’t realize that Adwords will automatically put your ad on mobile phones unless you specify otherwise (generally a bad move on Google’s part). Here’s what that looks like in the Adwords system:
The default is “All available devices” and is unfortunately recommended by Google. The marketer at CSD just accepted the default not realizing that any clicks from a mobile device would be 100% wasted due to the issues described above.
Aside from the issue of why the ad was on a mobile device is why the site has an invalid security certificate associated with the content on the site. This is just bad web programming and particularly egregious for a firm selling security products.
Oddly, a similar thing happened with American Express.