There’s been lots of talk about how much more effective interactive tablet ads are compared to more traditional forms of advertising, here at the World Publishing Expo in Berlin. 

German publisher Axel Springer was one of the companies making this case, claiming that interactive tablet ads keep users’ attention for 15.9 seconds compared to 3.3 seconds for static ads, and that click through rates are as high as 33 percent compared to less than 1 percent for other formats. 

Those stats are based on a sample of just 95 readers of car magazine Auto Bild, so this is qualiatative not quantitative data. Nevertheless, the researchers have used a combination of eye-tracking, behavioural tracking and asking the participants what they like. Here are the highlights, from Anja Manouchehri, Springer’s research project director:

1. Not everyone interacts with these ads, so making the branding obvious is vital. An unclear message may also negatively affect perception of the brand.

2. Interactive elements have to be obvious – a reader can easily miss them if they aren’t prominent. 

3. Make it clear how you expect someone to interact with an ad. This is a challenge given the lack of universal symbols for interaction, so either use very simple elements such as a swipe or explain clearly what to do.

4. Keep it simple. Too many elements in an interactive ad overtax the reader and make them less likely to respond favourably. 

5. Forced interaction is annoying.

6. Under-developed features in an ad can have a negative impact, especially for advertisers selling their brand based on technical competence. 

7. Harmonise the ad style with the content around it or before and after it.

8. Just including an activated video ad isn’t enough, it has to offer something more than just another brand message. 

9. Interactive elements without obvious branding can often be misinterpreted. Don’t focus on an interaction around drinking coffee if you’re trying to sell a car.

These are all common sense suggestions. But they will help creative impulses that can get carried away in pitch meetings, by reminding commercial teams that anything that gets approved will have to be built and used by readers.

With publishers increasingly expected to provide advertisers with expertise in developing ads for their tablet apps, it’s a good idea to have an idea of the basic rules to follow.