A surge in advertising around March Madness helped lead a mobile ad rebound late in the first quarter.
After a post-holiday season slowdown, many campaigns went live in late February or early March, with multiple days at the end of the quarter surpassing daily ad spending peaks in the fourth quarter, according to new data from mobile ad exchange MoPub.
Looking at key metrics, eCPMs ended the first quarter up slightly to 77 cents, while the clear rate rose from 7% to 11.4%, and bid depth (buyer bids per impression request) increased from 0.42 to 0.71 on the MoPub Marketplace, which serves 45 billion in-app ad impressions monthly.
Apple’s iOS platform maintained its healthy advantage over Android ad dollars, pricing and interaction rates. In March, the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch accounted for about 76% of ad spend, compared to 24% for Android. In the same month, the iPhone commanded a CPM of 88 cents and the iPad, $1.16, compared to 50 cents for Android phones, and 53 cents for Android tablets.
The Apple handset in March had a click-through rate of 1.7% and the iPad, 2.5%, versus 1.1% for Android phones and tablets. The MoPub quarterly report pointed out that Android tablets have made almost no headway against the iPad, capturing less than 1% of ad spend share.em
After an increase in Android CPMs in the fourth quarter, spurred by widespread adoption of Samsung’s Galaxy S phones, ad rates for the Google platform fell in the first quarter, while the click-through rate remained flat. “In Q1 2013, many ad buyers discovered the increase in user value on Android devices was offset by a poor conversion rate of users from these ads,” noted the MoPub study.
iOS benefited in particular from the spike in higher-quality brand advertising late in the quarter. Rich media ads supporting the MRAID standard accounted for nearly 80% of all ad spend in March, up from 68.4% in January. They carried a CPM premium of 68.5% over other types of ads in March.
Most of the rich media spend ad share overlaps with that for the iPhone. “The inability for Android to capitalize on increased value generated by rich media exposes a major issue that will need to be addressed,” stated the MoPub report. “Since Android device market share is growing faster than iOS, this will impact the larger mobile industry.”
Along with the uptick in rich media, demand for larger ad sizes grew sharply in the first quarter. Ad spend share for large units (480 x 320) increased more than 200% during the period, with the click-through rates for those ads ten times that of standard 320 x 250 units. MoPub said game apps in particular helped drive the higher performance of larger units.