‘Gimmicky’ contest ads, ‘flashy’ free-prize messages ‘turnoffs for mobile users’

Washington, April 30: Researchers including an Indian scientist have said that gimmicky contest ads and flashy free-prize messages may be an instant turnoff for mobile users.

S. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory, said in a study, a tempting offer of a free prize drawing for registering on a mobile website led users to distrust the site.

Sundar said that in an increasingly information-loaded world, people tend to lean on cues, such as icons and messages, for decision-making shortcuts, called heuristics. However, some cues may elicit user reaction in the opposite direction of what most marketers would anticipate.

He said that it’s a boomerang effect-marketers may think that they are activating the instant gratification heuristic when they display time-sensitive offers, but what they’re actually doing is cuing red flags about the site.

Sundar said that it could be that an instant gratification message makes mobile users, who tend to be more tech savvy, leery about the site.

Even though free-prize ads are ubiquitous on the internet, marketers may want to seek other ways to reach mobile customers, according to the researchers.

The researchers recruited 220 participants to test four different mobile sites. The participants were first asked to navigate to a mobile site. One site included a caution symbol and a security warning that the site was insecure and another site contained a gift box icon with a message that the user could win a free prize for registering.

A third site showed both a warning and an instant gratification message and a fourth site, which featured neither alerts, served as the control in the study. Except for these cues, all other content in the four sites was identical. (ANI)