Research Of The Effects Of Featuring Ads On The Apps Used By Smartphone Users

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The marketing and advertising industry have undergone rapid and tremendous changes over the last couple of years owing to constantly changing technology. Marketing techniques have seen a significant deviation from the conventional methods of engaging customers since the steady rise of the internet and other innovative forms of technology. Technology and the internet have seen advertising and marketing campaigns transform from traditional to digital forms of media. As cited by Persuad and Azhar (2012), the conventional methods used by marketers and advertisers were gradually becoming ineffective largely because of the increasing media diversity, and the introduction of various forms of technologies that improved marketing strategies. For instance, as argued by Danyl Bosomworth (2015), smartphones have substantially changed the marketing industry. With a growth rate of 64%, about 37% of people across the world own smartphones with 29% relying on their smartphones for internet access and staying connected, Bosomworth (2015) point out how smartphones have come to be important to marketers. Some of the techniques used by marketers via smartphones include pop-up adverts featured on some of the applications used on such phones. There have been varied reactions in regard to this technique from various smartphone users.

Statement of the Problem

About 77% of Americans own smartphones, and the number is steadily rising not only in the country but also across the world. The increasing demand for smartphones is enough incentive for digital marketers to incorporate advertisements in various applications including the essential apps. Around 2008 digital advertising shifted from mobile from a desktop platform, which also contributed, to the rise of the mobile app advertising industry. The industry, in 2017 alone, saw the U. S. digital marketer spend over $83 billion on mobile ad spending with a total of $107 billion spent across the globe. Although mobile app marketing is an effective way directly reaching out to customers, the strategy has attracted varied reactions from smartphone users with a majority citing that most of the adverts are annoying and affecting the manner in which they use their phones. As digital marketers continue to work together with app manufacturers to see more ads featured on some of the apps used, there is the need for examining some of the implications of these in-app pop-up adverts.

Literature review

Digital marketing and advertising and marketing, in general, is a field that has tremendously attracted multiple scholars and theorists who embark on understanding the basic concepts and using scientific approaches in explaining purchasing attitudes and behaviors of consumers among other aspects of marketing. Through this, many theories have been developed by theorists would have different interests in the concept of advertising and marketing.

An important theory in understanding digital marketing would be the marketing theory. The theory postulates that for purposes of maximizing sales, a business should strategically position their goods and services in a manner that influences a customer to believe they need a particular product or service. In regard to mobile marketing, a pop-up advert may appear on what service is needed on how to improve the performance of the device just when the gadget is slow or inefficient. The sellers of such services could place their adverts just anywhere but Adrian Palmer (2012) in relation to the marketing theory, explains that marketers advertise of specific apps by finding a difference between a product or service from others than spotting a unique positioning.

A study by Edwards, Li, and Lee (2002) on the psychological reactance of forced exposure of pop-up ads reveals rather interesting findings. The research study incorporated a total of 379 participants who were taken through a series of experiments. The data was gathered and comprehensively analyzed in order to make strong and concreted conclusion regarding the phenomenon. Evidence from the research suggests that when people perceive ads as intrusive, they are usually irritated and elicited. As a result, they tend to avoid the advertisements. The research described pop-up ads as intrusive and essentially offensive. Another study by Gao, Koufaris, and Ducaffe (2004) explore two of the common techniques used by online stores, pop-up ads and animated site banners and their effects on consumers. The researchers adopted a qualitative research design in satisfying the objectives of the analysis. Some of the findings from the investigation are consistent with a majority of research studies on the subject matter. There was a sense of perceived irritation from website users which had an influence on the nature of attitude of the users towards the adverts, and the websites in general.

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Grewal, Bart, Spann, and Zubcsek (2016) examines various aspects of mobile marketing including its effectiveness, marketing goals, and both positive and negative implications of the strategy for all the key players involved including consumers, marketers, sellers, and app developers. The study suggests that technological context play a crucial role in mobile marketing strategies that are adopted by marketers in the sense that, there are specific campaigns that are featured on certain apps. Although mobile marketing is perceived effective among many marketers and firms, there is still the element of irritating pop-up ads that appear on the screen in the middle of usage of certain apps. This aspect causes certain users to develop negative attitudes towards the advertisements, and the application in general.


Considering the nature and purpose of the investigation, the examiner adopted a qualitative research design to fulfill the objectives and seek answers to the research question. The strategy adopted was that of applied as opposed to a new investigation considering knowledge presented by previously conducted studies on the topic. Interviewing was adopted as the most appropriated method of generating data for the analysis with an open-ended questionnaire being the data collection tool for the investigation.

Random sampling technique was used in selecting participants for the study which consisted of 20 respondents who were all active users of smartphones. Interviews were organized which involved each participant being questioned differently concerning subjected matter. The interviews lasted between 10 to 20 minutes and involved asking questions within the questionnaire and others that were not in the questionnaire but related and applied to the topic under investigation.

Findings and discussion

The demographic background of the participants showed that about 70 percent were between the age of 16 and 24 years with 60 percent being male and the rest female. About 27 percent of the participants spent more than 10 hours a day online, 39 percent spending between 5 and 10 hours a day online with the rest spending less than 5 hours a day online. On the question of implications of mobile ads on various apps, they used about 75 percent felt irritated about the adverts citing that the adverts were frustrating and affected the way they used the apps. They felt most of the ads were intrusive and annoying. They also found not only the ads but also some of the apps to be annoying for featuring way too many ads. As such, about 60 percent of the respondents had a bad attitude towards some of these applications, which were mostly gaming applications as per a majority of the respondents. Only 24 percent of the respondents cited that they got involved with some of the pop-up ads by clicking and opening them. Still, a majority of the people who engaged with the ads, only 34% found them to be important and exciting with the rest displaying signs of disinterest, unappealing and irrelevance. The study sought to examine the implications of promotional techniques used on mobile apps to smartphone users. The study, therefore, reveals sufficient evidence that shows that a large proportion of smartphone users are irritated by most of the ads featured on mobile apps and that only a handful get involved and actually find the ads pleasant. There is also a negative attitude developed by users on some of the apps that feature way too many ads, especially on gaming apps. In regard to this, most users end up avoiding the advertisements or getting rid of the app altogether.


The outcome of the study provides an adequate platform for understanding the implications of using marketing strategies through mobile apps. More specifically, most of the ads irritate users, and they are not only avoided but also the entire apps that feature the ads, if not essential to the users, are gotten rid of. This alone questions the effectiveness of marketing through mobile apps but also raises concerns about the approaches used by the marketers and app developers. Therefore, there is still more to be done to ensure smartphone users engage in such advertisements by making them less or totally non-intrusive and user-friendly.


The research follows similar research methodologies employed in some of the previous empirical studies to maintain the credibility of the findings. The outcome from the study is consistent with a majority of the research studies including the three reviewed articles covered in the literature review. The investigation, to this point, is, therefore, valid and highly credible. Amount of knowledge conveyed by the research as well as the reviewed investigations is essential in the sense that they establish a framework upon which the effects of digital marketing techniques, in specific, pop-up ads as featured in mobile apps are understood.

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