The latest Mobile Advertising Report from market research agency GfK found that users of Apple's iPhone were more likely to recall and respond to ads than other mobile phone users. The reason for their higher response rates? Probably exposure. Although the report didn't come to this conclusion itself, it's somewhat apparent based on their findings. For example, iPhone owners are twice as likely to see mobile web ads and four times as likely to see an ad while playing a game on their phone or while using a location-based service.

The report, a joint effort between GfK and mobile social network Limbo, surveyed 1000 users in the U.S. and 1000 in the U.K. The goal was to learn how iPhone users respond to mobile advertising when compared with users of other mobile phones. The results are not entirely shocking, given the prolific use of the mobile web and applications by iPhone owners.

The main conclusion the report draws is that advertisers can reach iPhone users with mobile campaigns more easily than with other platforms.

Some other interesting findings from the study include the following (see below).

Seeing Ads

  • One in ten mobile phone users in the U.S. used a location-based service such as a map, friend or restaurant finder in Q4, 2008. The 25 - 34 age group saw the highest levels of interest in this type of offering, with 22 percent penetration. 
  • One in seven mobile phone users visit a mobile Web site, the second most popular response; this rises to one in five for iPhone users

Recalling Ads

  • iPhone users are four times as likely to recall LBS (location-based service) ads as non-iPhone users.
  • 33 percent of mobile consumers recall seeing mobile advertisements this quarter, compared to 41 percent of iPhone users.
  • One in three consumers that recall seeing a mobile ad responded in some way; this rises to one in two for iPhone users
  • While men and women are equally likely to recall mobile advertising, women are 85 percent more likely to respond to ads than men

Responding to Ads

  • Calling a toll free phone number published in the ads is the most common means of response; iPhone users called twice as much as non-iPhone users
  • One in seven consumers reported buying a product or visiting a store as a result of seeing a mobile advertisement; for iPhone users, more than one in four bought something as a result of seeing an ad

Exposure or Conditioning?

For the most part, this report comes to the sorts of conclusions we already knew - although we didn't have the numbers to back up our gut feelings. iPhone owners are going to see more ads because the use their phone to do more stuff. They surf the web, launch applications, play games, check their email, text their friends, and more. With the amount of time they spend engaged with their device, as opposed to someone who has a Razr for example, it's only natural to think that they will come across more ads.

What is interesting about these findings, though, is the recall rate for these ads when comparing iPhone users with others. Although it would have been a much more interesting survey had they compared iPhone owners just to those who owned other smartphones, it's still interesting to see how engaged they are with the mobile advertising they are subjected to . Among those that remember seeing an ad, half of iPhone users responded compared to one out of three mobile phone users. Why is that?

Could it be that the ads presented on the iPhone are simply more interesting and relevant than those displayed on other mobile devices? If we're talking about in-game and in-app ads only, that's entirely possible - especially if the ad is for another application! Or could it be that iPhone owners are, as mocoNews puts it, "a self-selected group that responds to marketing hype?" Yikes.

If we had to bet, we would imagine that it simply comes down to a numbers game. iPhone users use their phones more, see more ads, so therefore they will both recall and respond to more ads than anyone else.