Smartphone zombies savvier than we give them credit for

Researchers find gimmicky ads & contests a turnoff to mobile users

While smartphones and tablets might give users information flxes anytime and anywhere, users might not be as receptive to gimmicky ads and contests on their gadgets as marketers would like, according to Penn State researchers.

Such marketing ploys might backfire when aimed at increasingly tech-savvy people, says S. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory.

Sundar says that in an increasingly information-loaded world, people tend to lean on cues, such as icons and messages, for decision-making shortcuts, called heuristics. However, some cues may elicit user reaction in the opposite direction of what most marketers would anticipate.

"It's a boomerang effect--marketers may think that they are activating the instant gratification heuristic when they display time-sensitive offers, but what they're actually doing is cuing red flags about the site," Sundar says in a statement.

The researchers also found the users might be more willing to share certain social media profile info with a site after first being warned about security. The thinking is that these people talk themselves into believing their social media info is mainly public anyway.

Findings, based on testing with 220 participants exposed to four different mobile sites, were presented this week at the Association for Computing Machinery's Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Toronto.

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