According to reports in the digital media press, iAd is contacting UK agencies about changes in their pricing policy and structure. In the US, the minimum spend has already been reduced from $1m to $100k, but it seems there will be even further developments. Currently iAd uses a ‘hybrid’ (or double) pricing model of both CPM and CPC for its advertising, which is a major barrier for advertisers. Apple are also expected to increase payouts to developers in order to create further distribution of ad content.
The expected changes come at a time when the mobile advertising market is hotting up. Google’s Admob has moved closer to the Adwords model and Facebook are likely to launch a major mobile ad initiative before the spring. Back in June 2011, I wrote that Apple seemed to be losing interest in iAd and a report by The Digital Times suggested that the recent moves are a last-ditch attempt save the project. Apple have driven the consumer market in mobile, but have failed to ignite the world of advertising. With the amount of profit they’re making, I suspect they’re not too worried about it.
The Google Mobile mobile ads blog has given some insight into the countries that generate the most traffic to their mobile Ad network, AdMob. The 80:20 rule still seems to apply, with just 17 countries out of 190 served, providing 80% of the traffic. Whilst North America is the biggest region, Asia takes second place, with Europe in third. Surprisingly India saw the most ads served in Asia. Although the country has a large mobile population, it is generally represented by lower end handsets and small data usage. However this shows the trend towards more smartphones and a growing middle class population. In Europe, the UK represented 1/3rd of advertising traffic, with France and then Germany some way behind.
With 1000% rises in traffic in some territories, Google predicted that 2011 would be a ‘break-out year for mobile’. It looks like mobile advertising has really come of age.
Since Google took over admob a year ago, the company’s ad serving has gone up three times over the previous year – they are now serving a massive 2bn ads every month. The highest performing region was Asia (564%), followed by Western Europe (471%) and Oceania (363%). It looks like mobile advertising really has come of age.
Last year (and the year before) I made a number of predictions about mobile and mobile marketing for the year ahead. 2010 was a good one for mobile marketing. Mobile advertising came of age with AdMob and Apple’s IAd. Many retailers got into mCommerce. And Foursquare showed the potential of location-based marketing with their check-in offer. That’s just a few examples. Looking at last year’s predictions is also a chance to review the year as a whole. So how did the predictions fare? See below – I’ve marked myself out of 10 for accuracy.
Predictions from 2010
2010 will be the year of mobile advertising
8/10 a number of things happened to make mobile advertising a significant channel this year. At the end of 2009 Google acquired AdMob. Big. In June, Apple announced IAd. Very Big. OK, you may say, IAd has a tiny reach, but Apple announced that they had secured a number of brands, and significantly 21% of the mobile advertising market. Add to that the operator DM channels such as O2 More and Orange shots, and you can see that there was significant marketing activity. However, there’s still a long way to go – so I drop two points for that.
Mobile payments will become more common place
8/10 this was a pretty good prediction. I’ve taken off a couple of points as in-app payments haven’t taken off as expected, although the ‘freemium’ model has taken hold. Significantly, the number of mobile retail sites grew rapidly throughout the year. At the start of 2010 no high street UK retailer had a transactional mobile site. By the end, M&S, John Lewis, Tesco Direct and Debenhams all had full mCommerce sites (not to mention Barney’s in the US), with other brands such as Argos to follow very soon. Tesco’s did a study which showed that 10% of people will use their mobile for their Xmas shopping this year. In the world of apps, the likes of Ocado established themselves fully. At the start of the year they took 5% of their orders through their mobile app. By the end of the year it was 10%. Ebay and Amazon expect mobile commerce to overtake the fixed internet within the next few years.
More commercial and branded apps
9/10 with a few notable exceptions, they’re all at it. It seemed like every brand launched an app whether their customers needed it or not!
Behavioural targeting will be on the rise
5/10 it all depends on what you count as behavioural targeting. If you look at the mobile operators, there is very little targetting going on. The direct channels are opt-in to selected sectors, rather than targeted at consumer behaviour. That’s probably a good thing, as the public are very wary of this type of advertising. Still, I drop 5 points for getting it slightly wrong. However, it is strong and growing strong in other ways. Facebook is the ultimate behavioural targeting, and their ad revenue rose significantly. IAd is also a form of targeting, although it is through the apps they use rather than their actual behaviour online.
10/10 it’s an issue that won’t go away. Facebook came into major conflict with their users over changes in their privacy policies. There was the Openbook controversy, which showed how much people allow the world to see, and not forgetting the Foursquare inspired, Pleaserobme.com. Although Facebook seem to have placated most of their users for now, it will run and run. Then there was Google’s legal problems over their storing of personal WiFi data … I could go on! When it comes to mobile in particular, the personal-ness of the device will always require careful consideration on the part of brands.
Android will become a major player in mobile OS
10/10 Easy! It’s strange to think that 12 months ago Android was nowhere. By Q3 it had overtaken the iPhone and BlackBerry to become the second biggest mobile OS. Much of that came not from Google’s phone, but a couple of excellent handsets from the likes of HTC and Samsung.
Mobile content and social media aggregation
7/10 I was correct in the intent – we want our social media and our content in one place. However the results weren’t quite as expected (hence the 3 point drop). For example, Vodafone’s 360 was poorly executed and even more poorly advertised. By the end of the year they had quietly dropped it. What happened was that the aggregation went on in the places that the users were already in. The main place is Facebook. With the addition of their email, Facebook are telling people ‘why go anywhere else?’
Apps will still grow – the mobile web cannot replace them
9/10 apps have grown massively this year in large part through Nokia’s OviStore, Blackberry World and Android Market. The mobile web has not replaced apps at that level. What has happened is that the mobile web offers a different user and brand experience. Many brands are developing both web and apps.
Augmented Reality and Image Recognition will not significantly take off
8/10 arguably it’s easy to predict things that won’t happen, but there was a lot of talk about these two in 2009. We’ve seen some great stuff with Layar on the AR side and Google Goggles on the IR side (hence the two points I’ve taken off). However, they are far from mass market. Most mobile AR apps are little more than location services. There were a couple of exceptions, such as the excellent Berlin Wall project. These show the direction it could go to make AR more exciting. Google’s Goggles is a great concept – image based search – but have you tried it? It simply doesn’t work very well. Whilst the possibilities are there, Forrester predicted that it would be some years before AR takes off on mobile.
Mobile social networks will not go it alone
10/10 yes we saw Foursquare and Gowalla, as(almost) pure mobile social networks, but Facebook is THE place for mobile. In the UK 50% of status updates come from mobile phones, and over 150 million of their users update via mobile. Foursquare, on the other hand has a tiny number of users, not only that but it has had to allow status updates straight into Facebook. And anyway, Foursquare isn’t social media, it’s a game. So yes, 10 out of 10 for the prediction!
Google’s purchase of Admob for $750m seems to be a good thing for both parties and mobile advertising in general. Unless, of course, you are mobile operator.
Why is this a problem for the mobile operators?
The answer is simple … as operator revenues get squeezed, they have started to look at mobile advertising as a significant source of new revenue. In the UK, for example, Orange, O2 (O2 Media) and Vodafone (Vodafone Target) have all put resources into this sector. A case in point is Orange’s acquisition of ad network Blyk, this summer.
Google have not made significant in-roads in mobile advertising, but Admob have. If you are a business or brand, you will have a choice to go to your network operator or Google. Judging by Google’s success with online advertising, it looks like most people will not choose advertise with the operators.
The announcement that Google is to acquire Admob for $750 is significant news for the mobile advertising sector.
Admob has had good success in the mobile pay per clicks market and benefited from the growth in smartphones such as the iphone and Blackberry, along with increased flat rate data plans. Google has made a substantial investment in the mobile sector, particularly with their mobile OS, Android. However, it hasn’t made any significant advances in the mobile PPC market. Similar to it’s policy with YouTube, Flickr, Blogspot etc, Google has acquired a leading player in the market through Admob.
A statement issued by Google said that: “While this industry is still in the early stages of development, AdMob has already made exceptional progress in a very short time,”
The feeling amongst industry experts is that it is good news all round. It demonstrates Google’s committment to mobile and Admob’s success in the market.