Is Your Mobile Ad Engagement Driven by Fat-Thumb Syndrome?

As an editor, I’m extremely picky about my texting grammar. I will call out friends for using the wrong forms of “your” and “to,” and I’ll send follow-up texts if I catch my own typos.

But there’s one person whom I rarely correct: my mother. It’s not that my mother is a grammar fanatic like I am; it’s more that she’s a victim of fat-thumb syndrome, and I’ve learned to expect and translate her little mistakes. Like how she meant to say “Some chips, no dip. Go to Pick ‘n Save or gas station” in the text below.

But my mom isn’t the only victim of fat-thumb syndrome. A new study from location-based mobile and digital company Retale suggests that many consumers experience fat-thumb syndrome while scrolling through mobile banner ads. In fact, 60% of the 500 U.S. adults surveyed say their mobile ad clicks are usually accidental, primarily due to small screen size or finger slippage.

These mishaps tend to generate more negative feelings than positive ones. According to the study, 68% of respondents report feeling annoyed after accidentally clicking on a mobile banner ad, and 45% and 22% say they feel frustrated or angry, respectively; only 6% say they feel calm, and even fewer report feeling satisfied (5%) or excited (3%).

These finger follies can occur during a number of mobile activities. According to the study, 69% of respondents recall at least one time they clicked on a mobile banner ad while on an app or on a mobile website. Sixty-five of respondents say this happened while surfing the Web or reading the news; others say these interactions occurred while using social media (50%), playing games (47%), watching videos (45%), or listening to music (45%).

Regardless of whether a click is intentional, consumers don’t seem to see the value in mobile banner ads in general. In fact, 66% of respondents deem banner ads “useless” or “not very successful.” For those who do click on ads intentionally, just 16% say it’s because they like the promoted company, product, or service. What’s more, only 13% say they purposely click because the ads are interesting. As for those who accidentally click, 64% say they’re unlikely to review the company or service featured.

So, it looks like my mom shouldn’t be the only one aware of fat-thumb syndrome—marketers should be aware of it, too.

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