The majority of mobile ad dollars are going towards boring (or worse, annoying) ads that alienate consumers and negatively impact brands. To find out what ads captivate consumers and which aggravate them, Kargo and Media Science conducted a study on…

optimizing ads for the mobile screen


Published: Fall 2018

With ad budgets shifting to mobile, marketers are looking for unique ways to break through to consumers. But what types of ads are best suited for the mobile screen?

Kargo partnered with MediaScience to evaluate the effectiveness of nine different mobile ad formats within the mobile web environment. Uncover which formats excel on mobile devices and how marketers can take advantage of understanding how consumers respond to a wide variety of ad unit formats.


The mobile ad landscape is evolving along with changing standards and user experiences. In part, this is caused by a shift to programmatic advertising—programmatic demand is increasing along with more efficient methods for buying programmatic advertising. The programmatic buying process, however, has its trade-offs: buyers aren’t considering ad quality, ads are becoming more generic, and webpages are becoming cluttered. 

Mobile ad analytics such as in-view rate and video completion rates remain key measures of success for advertisers. These metrics indicate performance in a direct quantifiable manner, but advertisers often don’t consider the impact on the consumer experience or the advertising effectiveness for other key performance indicators such as brand awareness or ad recall. On the small screen, it’s essential that the ad unit isn’t only on-screen but that a consumer also interacts with the ad unit in a positive non-disrupting experience. 

Kargo designed a study to be able to determine how users perceive ads within the mobile environment and which types of ad units are most effective.

The Goal & methodology

Kargo partnered with neuroscience firm MediaScience to research the impact and effectiveness of various mobile ad formats. In MediaScience’s neuroscience labs, participants were connected to eye tracking and biometric recording devices and asked to read mobile editorial content pages on a smartphone. Participants were assigned to specific sequences of content rotations to measure the discrete effect of each ad unit. 

A mixed experimental design was utilized to ensure that all nine ad  formats were equally represented by all brands, while also controlling for potential order effects.  Eye tracking, biometrics (electrodermal activity, inter-beat intervals), and post-exposure survey tools were used within the lab.

Key Learnings

  • What’s the relationship between viewability and advertising effectiveness?

  • Which mobile ad formats are the most effective without disrupting the user experience? 

  • How can we enhance the mobile user experience while delivering the best value to both advertisers and consumers? 

  • What can we do to make existing non-mobile assets work in a mobile environment?