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I'm embarking on a new project and one of the stipulations from the client is that the Android app I am designing MUST have banner ads in it but they are also to be put where they will "cause the least amount of irritation". The revenue made from these ads is based on impression rather than clicks so it makes sense to put them where they are least likely to get in the way This made me wonder, is there somewhere to place ads that will annoy users less than if they are placed elsewhere or do users just ignore ads anyway?

I know that this shares some points with web based advert placement but as with all things mobile it has it's own unique problems.

Most apps seem to put their ads at the bottom of the screen, however a fair few put them at the top now too. I know from personal experience that I tend to look over ads and don't really notice them so if I place the ads in these usual places will it cause less irritation to the user? Have users seen so many ads that their eyes automatically skip over them in a sort of mental ad block?

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7 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Android developer docs has a section titled Advertising Without Compromising User Experience

Unfortunately, it only highlights the don't do's rather than the do's:

When deciding where to place ads within your application, you should carefully consider user-experience. For example, you don’t want to fill the screen with multiple ads that will quite likely annoy your users. In fact, this practice is banned by some ad networks. Also, avoid placing ads too closely to UI controls to avoid inadvertent clicks.

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Not the most helpful, but I think it's because you're already going down a limited path when you start implementing ads. That said, I would stick to common patterns. Deciding between top and bottom placement should depend on your layout (i.e. away from controls).

In response to some of the other discussion about ads in general, a user experience will be diminished by ads, but less so by targeted ads as a result of a value-for-value tradeoff (i.e. free product that has ads).

I'm taking a bit from another thread, but if the rest of you are more interested in this, check it out.

Appending to my prior answer.

I found this use of banner ads to be a good example for a couple reasons:

  • Not blatantly staring at the user the whole time
  • Doesn't force the user to close it
  • If accidentally tapped, it doesn't launch the browser (only expands and requires one more tap to launch browser).
  • Despite being loud, it's not cleverly hidden/disguised to attract unwanted taps.

Sportscenter app ads .gif

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Thank you for reading the question and not just telling me not to use ads, or to use a different type to the one specified by the client. –  KitP Nov 12 '13 at 8:45
    
It's unfortunate that you have to be concerned with people not responding to the question as you asked it -- the guidelines are the reason for the question. I think it's good for all of us to remember that design solves problems and there aren't defined rules for every situation (why else would we be on here). Plus, who likes designing without constraints? –  glilley Nov 14 '13 at 2:35
    
Love the idea of dealing with adds in a respectful way since they still are content the user has to deal with. –  uxfelix Nov 22 '13 at 9:31
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Regarding placement on the screen, the points in glilley's answer and in the Android developer docs are vital. (Don't overlay above elements, don't place ads next to other controls/buttons.)


Many of these following tips are from my personal experience and in my opinion should be common sense:

  • Avoid ads that require an action. I find ads at the bottom of the screen less annoying then ads on transitions e.g. on exit from app because the former can be ignored, whereas the later require an action e.g. another click to exit.

  • Don't cause delays e.g. don't make users stare at an ad for X seconds before they can continue doing what they want.

  • Don't take up too much screen real estate. If the ad takes up most of the screen, the sense of value of the app goes down (perhaps to the percentage of the ad free screen relative to what it would be). E.g. if you include ads in results, most of the screen (85%+) should be non-ad results.

  • Don't significantly effect bandwidth or memory. It is an annoyance if ads take up a lot of bandwidth e.g. due to frequent changing or due to format (e.g. video or images instead of text) or take up a lot of memory (due to the same causes). In other words, prefer text ads over images and images over video.

  • Don't use sound or videos with sound. If you do use video clips, don't loop them - once the user has seen it once, showing over and over will just annoy people.

  • Use the same color theme as the actual content - Don't let the ads stand out too much.

  • Depend on the topic of the app or the displayed content - Display relevant ads.

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Are there screens or a time in your app when the user is waiting for something? You could try showing the ad at that point (with the ability to dismiss it). It's a bit better than constantly showing a barely discernible ad pasted to the top or bottom of a smartphone screen.

Another problem with ads pasted to the top/bottom portion of the app: the user may accidently click the ad as they scroll/up down through the app. I've used an app that did this, and as I scrolled with my thumb, I accidently clicked the ad pasted to the bottom of the window. This really, really annoyed me. It completely takes me out of the app's experience that the designer(s) tried so hard to create.

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Personally I feel the opposite to what you say about adverts fixed at the top and bottom, I do notice these and find them extremely annoying. It also draws my attention to the fact that this app is trying to force ads down my throat rather than provide good content which I downloaded the app for.

As to where I think they should go I think it depends on what kind of app you are making.

If the main screen was a kind of 'feed' such as the facebook news feed or instagram I would suggest occasionally putting in a highlighted 'sponsored post' containing the advert. This would be less obtrusive and the fact that it isn't a constant may make the user pay more attention.

If it were a game maybe at the end of each run you could show an advert, possibly offering an in-game reward on click-through (although I know that isn't one of your requirements).

I'd strongly advise against ads fixed on portions of the screen as in my experience they are irritating, ignored and devalue the app itself.

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Do you have any figures or research to back up your points?techienews.co.uk/971585/… this post would imply that in feed adverts are possibly more annoying than static ones, do you have different data? –  KitP Oct 19 '13 at 8:23
    
You may be right, I'm just offering my opinion on the better UX. Personally I feel any kind of advertising that uncontrollably intrudes on what I'm doing irritating. If its in a feed and I'm not interested I can at least scroll past it and be done with it. If its a floating ad and I'm not interested there's nothing I can do about it. The better UX is surely not to dedicate a large chunk of screen space to advertising. –  Joe Taylor Oct 19 '13 at 10:11
    
Fair enough. I was curious if you had data, that's all. I do agree that advertising is usually bad for UX (the possible exception being the idea of giving rewards for clicks/views within a game). In this case though I have a spec to follow so follow it I will have to. Of course Facebook may very well be doing something else to cause user annoyance. I can see why companies want to use ads in apps, it allows them to monetize the app and therefore offset some of the maintenance/set up costs but I was hoping there's a way to do that within the spec I have without impacting too greatly on UX. –  KitP Oct 19 '13 at 13:00
    
I think unfortunately any kind of advertising is going to have a negative impact on UX. Personally I would find occasional ads within the flow of the app much less obnoxious than ones that stay fixed in a dedicated area of the (already small) screen –  Joe Taylor Oct 19 '13 at 14:43
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Depends on the actual app. Usually placing them as far as possible from the main controls or actions is an obvious best practice. Accidental clicks that send you outside your goal task is very irritating. If the app has many loading pages, it might be a good idea to show the pre-loaded adds while the content/stage is loading, since they are waiting anyway.

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How contextual are you ads?

If it is not related to your content, then don't use them anyways since becomes annoying after a point.

If your ads are contextual, then you can use them while you are downloading something or transitioning between the screens

For example, if a user has just placed an order via your application and is waiting for the order to be confirmed/acknowledged, then you can show him ads related to other offers regarding the content they are ordering or other applications who does the same. You should give a skip button (or no thanks button) so that user can remove it if he/she wants

Realize the limitations of your app

If your app doesn't do something by design or by limitation, you can use this opportunity to show the ad which tells about a service which can provide that feature. It will give the user something complementary to your app.

Hope this has given a few ideas!

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Whilst good advice for most apps this doesn't answer the question as I have been told by the client I MUST use banner ads –  KitP Nov 12 '13 at 13:50
    
@KitP neither does the answer that you have selected!! –  gurvinder372 Nov 12 '13 at 16:27
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True, I've now de-selected it. I was working under the assumption that it was the best answer I'd get, however that's not the point of this site. Thank you for pointing that out. –  KitP Nov 12 '13 at 19:05
    
@KitP In that case, you can see the suggestions in this answer ux.stackexchange.com/questions/33323/… –  gurvinder372 Nov 13 '13 at 5:45
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It doesn't matter, as long as you don't interfere with the users work flow.

From an other (marketeer) perspective: As soon as you or any one else has a concept of displaying ads in a totally unique way (actually increasing click rates) you will have copycats using the same method.

The nice thing then is: Users respond to novelty. So after time the users don't care where or how adds are presented. They learn extremely fast how to visually block or jump content which is not relevant to them.

So check competing apps and apps addressing your target group. How do they implement adds and do it the same way.

The only thing you can do wrong is to destroy their basic work flow with your app. Making adds look like a score board inside an NHL app for example will not provide the user with intended material (for which he actually downloaded the app) which will only raise his frustration level and decrease his commitment to your app.

Some source: "The law of shitty clickthroughs"

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