A woman uses a smartphone in New York
Smartphone screen size makes accidental clicking more likely. REUTERS

A Harris Interactive survey, conducted on behalf of New York-based Pontiflex, found that nearly half of mobile app users said they were more likely to accidentally click an ad than intentionally.

Marketing agencies and app developers focus strongly on advertising clicks, and advertisers use clicks to determine ad placement and cost. But the survey's results challenge that logic, as accidental clicks lose their significance as measurements of an ad's success. People are reading a lot of intent into that click, said Pontiflex CEO Zephrin Lasker.

Lasker noted that the accidental clicks come in large part because of the relatively small size of smartphone screens. The survey illustrates that one of the big constraints is screen size. When you have small sizes, it's easy for people to make mistakes, he said.

Citing Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Lasker said a major part of maintaining a consistent user experience is keeping users within the app. Most app advertisements, when clicked, redirect the user through an external web browser. A better approach, Lasker argued, would keep all advertisements within the app itself.

To counter accidental clicks, Pontiflex uses a pay-per-lead system to determine revenue. Rather than present users with ads, app developers can ask users to provide their contact information, which is then supplied to other advertisers. This allows an app's revenue to be determined through how much information it gathers rather than how many times users click on internal advertisements.

For Lasker, the pay-per-click model is flawed because it assumes a level of user intention that isn't necessarily present. The best way to really tell if someone is engaged with your brand is through signing up, he said. Advertisers need to think about how they are not just going to broadcast, but have conversations with their users. It's a shift away from broadcasting and more towards engagement.

To contact the reporter responsible for this story email r.bilton@ibtimes.com or call (646) 461 7294.