With the launch of the iPad this month, the category of emerging devices that access the Web but aren't phones is poised to get even bigger. So how is this burgeoning segment shaping up for mobile advertisers?
Connected devices like the iPad, iPod touch, Sony PSP and Nintendo DS accounted for 21% of U.S. impressions in March, according to new data from mobile ad network Millennial Media. Smartphones generated 45%, and feature phones, 34%. Impressions on the iPad increased 713% in the first week following the Apple tablet's April 3 release, although it still only generates a tiny fraction of Millennial's traffic.
Apple devices overall generated the largest share of impressions across Millennial's network, at 40%. While the iPad has gotten off to a solid start with 450,000 units sold in its first few days, the much-hyped tablet still has a long way to go to catch up with the 85 million iPhones and iPod touches sold to date.
Among smartphones, the iPhone was easily tops in impressions, with nearly a 27% share, with the BlackBerry Curve a distant second at 6%.
Millennial plans to break out stats for connected devices each month in a separate new Mobile Mix report and plans to provide a full analysis of the iPad's impact on the mobile ad market next month.
"We felt that it was now time to spotlight this data for industry watchers who are trying to understand the role of devices and consumer behavior in the overall mobile market," said Erin McKelvey, senior vice president of marketing at Millennial, which says its network reaches 83% of U.S. mobile device users.
Earlier this month, Millennial unveiled a new set of ad units geared to the iPad. But it and other mobile ad networks will now have to contend with Apple's new iAd platform, through which CEO Steve Jobs has promised to raise the bar for mobile advertising in applications. The new system is built on the Quattro Wireless network that Apple acquired in January.
Separately, Apple archrival Google continues to expand its mobile footprint with Android. A requests through its mobile operating system increased 72% last month. Highlighting its growth, Android now powers devices from more than half of the top 15 smartphone makers on Millennial's network, including Samsung, Motorola and HTC.
BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIM) saw the most growth after Android, with ad requests going up 25% in March. But Apple's iPhone OS still claimed by far the largest share of smartphone impressions, at 70%. That was followed by RIM (14%), Android, (6%), Windows Mobile, (4%), Danger and "Other" (3% each) and Palm's webOS (1%).