When It Comes to Ads, Why Are Android Users Click-Happy?

Android users are 80 percent more valuable than iPhone users, says Chitika, an online advertising network that serves 2 billion monthly impressions over more than 80,000 websites. The Westborough, Mass. company today shared data based on a sample of 1.3 million impressions across its network, showing a click-through rate (CTR) of 1.187 percent on Android (s goog) devices vs. a lowly 0.654 percent CTR on the iPhone (s aapl). Clearly, Chitika’s large sample size offers credibility to the theory that Android users are more likely to click ads, but why are they doing so?

In a quick email exchange I had with Om earlier today, he suggested that Android devices could exhibit more ad clicks than iPhones because the interface isn’t nearly as smooth: It’s possible there are more mistaken ad clicks on Android as a result. I’d be more apt to agree if more Android phones were still on the 1.5 and 1.6 versions which have a far clunkier user interface, so I checked the Android target device dashboard, which tracks the version of Android devices when they hit the Android Market. The most recent data, as of Aug. 2, shows that 61.2 percent of the Android phones tracked are running the newer Android 2.1 or 2.2 versions, both of which offer an improved interface.

I can’t discount that a sub-par user interface could be creating unintentional ad clicks, but would it account for 80 percent more clicks? Perhaps, but I don’t think so, because mobile ads generally aren’t deceiving; when you see an advertisement on a phone, you generally recognize it for what it is. Given that Google’s history is rich in advertising and the science of optimizing it, I’m wondering if there’s some hot-spot algorithm or other ad-centric solution that gives the Android platform an advantage over others for advertisers.

Interestingly, the Android click-through rates that Chitika is seeing aren’t a one-off situation. Indeed, data from Smaato, another ad network, showed similar results in June with Android CTRs overtaking that of the iPhone, but still lagging behind Symbian (s nok) and feature phones. Is it the interface, the platform, the type of users that Android attracts, or some combination of all three? It’s too early to tell, but well worth watching as Android continues to grow.

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