The ad environment does matter

How does brand advertising work on mobile? How are relationships between brands and people built and maintained through the smartphone? Are you wondering how to please modern mobile users? We have some insights to share. At Widespace we recently commissioned a study about mobile usage and advertising, surveying 800 mobile phone users in France, Germany, Sweden and the UK. Usage is similar across all four countries with communication being the number one use for mobile, followed by social media. The traditional usage has long disappeared; people text more than they call, using Facebook messaging or Whatsapp more than they use traditional text. 

If you’re looking to please the modern day mobile user, be ready to pay up – mobile users today have high expectations of mobile sites and apps. In the growing volume of content there is also a strong wish for quality. For premium sites it is important to protect users from inappropriate content and bad ads have a negative influence on the visited site or app. Likewise 50% of all users agree that poor website/app content negatively impacts the advertised brands. The study found that for 80% of the users, major importance when ranking a site or app as premium, is the site performance and fast load times.

Personalised ad delivery is generally well received but publishers should keep a close eye on their ad serving platform, as users do not appreciate an over-delivery of ads. In other words, spamming is not considered premium.

And while the above is true for all countries in this study, there are of course fine nuances between these markets that have to be taken into consideration when serving ads in these regions.


Swedes seem to be the easiest to please when it comes to content among the four countries. Content should be believable and easy to understand, with more relevancy for women and links to more information for men.

More than 80% of mobile phone users in Sweden rate mobile ads as average or below so if advertisers want to connect with mobile users, they should tailor their content to the interests of female users and provide links for male users. If publishers want to score big they should focus on fast loading and easy access to sites. Younger audiences of Sweden are fine with targeting technologies, while users 30 and older in general do not have as positive attitude towards these technologies.


Great Britain 

In the UK, content is king. Content quality is a driving factor for premium sites and the view of premium sites. Do not try to appeal to the emotions of a Brit, rather aim for well written, easy to understand information with just the right amount of detail.

Placing an ad on a mobile website or app with low quality will give you minus points and advertisers should especially stay away from sites with sexual content as 70% of all users believe poor quality has a negative impact on the advertised brand. If the ad is placed in a premium location, loaded quality and visually pleasing, then the ad should be a success for the Brits. Targeted ads are popular among British smartphone users as well, with 50% preferring targeted ads above non-targeted ads.



As ever, the French have an eye for detail. To tap into the French mobile user, a key opportunity is the proper use of fonts and colours – make the ads aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Mobile sites and apps should not only be easy to navigate and access, they should also present content in an easy to read format. Mobile-friendly sites are a safe bet for French users and as in Sweden and Great Britain, more than 60% of all users think that poor websites or apps have a negative impact on advertised brands. It is also worth to note that the French prefer targeted ads to non-targeted ads to learn more about products that may be interesting for them. The French market can be very demanding on publishers but the investment will most likely pay off.



Germany tended to be the outlier in a few of the key takeaways of mobile usage. Site content is generally less important with 51% agreeing that poor website or app content does not negatively influence advertised brands (all 3 other countries disagree with this). Instead, German publishers should focus on technical qualities such as load time and access first.

The content in the ad should be believable and detailed information rather than easy to understand information. Especially interesting to note about German mobile users is that the higher educated German have higher expectations of mobile ads with design factors being very relevant. To appeal to the German user, ads should be visually pleasing and make proper use of fonts and colours (as in the French market), while providing easy to understand, yet detailed information. Targeting technologies are generally accepted but it is preferred to have the option to opt out – the power of choosing for themselves.