“No Need to Shout” – Audio in Mobile Ads

A few days ago I ran into an ad with the weirdest audio experience that got me thinking about various patterns publishers should be aware of when it comes to audio in ads. This post is highlighting some ad experiences we have seen since we started AdIntel and would probably not meet the quality criteria of publishers.


Is the sound even on?

That’s actually a good question. My device is always on mute when I play games without my AirPods. If I’m with my AirPods I’ll probably turn off the audio on the app side and listen to music from a dedicated app. These configurations are actually quite different when it comes to the ability of ads to play sounds. Turning the audio off on the hardware side will eliminate any possibility for audio surprises but if you are listening to any audio the ad can inject its own audio even if the app disabled its own music and effects. A study by Snapchat on this subject was published in WSJ with the claim that for Snapchat 2/3 of the video ads are being played with sound. Games may have a different ratio of ‘Sound On’ users but I would say it’s safe to assume there are many game sessions where the audio is not turned off at the device level and are exposed to Ad audio problems.

Late night narration

Click to hear the sound

This pattern is quite surprising and I’m not sure what was the purpose. The video of this ad shows an innocent looking ad where the goal is to destroy a tall building using some sort of a cannon. I can imagine this can be fun. The narration of this ad tells a completely different story. The narrator has an East European female accent while the ad is targeted to US audiences. And she explains that the game is so hard and yet very satisfying and keeps her up all night.

I guess the best way to experience this ad is to play the video

Volume changes

This one is probably the oldest trick in the book and you can see it even with TV commercials. The technique is no stranger to mobile ads as well and if you are using mobile apps, you may have noticed this pattern yourself.

Banners that trigger audio

There is an unwritten agreement between banner providers and app developers. Banners should stay within the rectangular area assigned to them and don’t initiate actions unless the user taps on them. Also, they shouldn’t be playing sounds. That rule however, is not respected by everyone and we saw at least one incident in which banners broke the unwritten code and started playing their own tunes.

Ad Quality with and without an SDK

At the moment, SOOMLA’s ability to report audio issues in ads is very minimal but our Ad Quality offering and the SDKless AdQuality solution of AdIntel are the most advanced when it comes to detecting bad UX issues. If you feel Audio issues should be at the top of our list for 2021 let us know. Also, now is a good time to try AdIntel for free and see the tools that are available already.


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