Seeing ads pop up in your Facebook News Feed on a smartphone can be annoying. But is it so disruptive that you’d pay a monthly fee to remove it?
In a survey of 5,000 U.S. consumers, the answer was a resounding “no,” according to marketing and analytics firm AppLovin. For companies to recoup the amount they could earn through mobile advertising, customers would need to pay roughly $5 on top of their monthly cell phone bill, the firm said.
More than 80 percent of customers surveyed said they wouldn’t spend $5 to banish ads, and 67 percent would refuse to pay anything. Only 19 percent of customers surveyed said they would pay $5 or more, AppLovin said.
“The second you ask people for money, the bar goes to a totally different place,” said AppLovin CEO Adam Foroughi.
Last year, companies spent $19 billion on mobile advertising in the United States, according to research firm eMarketer. The leaders in the U.S. mobile ad market were Google, with roughly 37 percent market share, followed by Facebook at 18 percent, eMarketer said.
People may also be reluctant to pay to eliminate ads, because they don’t mind viewing targeted ads if they get an app or service for free, Foroughi said. It’s also common to see professionally produced commercials or videos shared among friends on social networks.
Some tech companies, including Google, have been looking at whether customers would be willing to pay for an ad-free environment. Last year, Google launched Contributor by Google, letting customers choose whether they want to spend $2 to $10 a month to see no Google ads on certain websites, including the Onion and Mashable. Google says it records visits to those participating sites, but does not share that information with advertisers or use it to tailor ads.
“We’re continuing to test Contributor, and are very happy with the progress so far,” said Google spokeswoman Andrea Faville.
Another notable ad-free experiment was the social network Ello, which rolled out in 2014 as an alternative to Facebook, but quickly flopped as users went back to Facebook.
Some privacy advocates say the presence of ads is not the trouble, but rather the information any site collects.
John Simpson, director of the privacy project for Consumer Watchdog, says sure, some mobile ads are annoying. “But I’m less concerned about the actual ad being shown as the information about me that is being gathered,” he said. “That to me is the real problem.”