Commentary

Conference Takeways: Gains For Android, Mobile Ad Engagement

In case you couldn't make it to the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Mobile Marketing Conference in New York this week, Citi analyst Mark Mahaney has issued a research note highlighting some of the key points from the event. The firm attended sessions from companies including ESPN, GetJar, JumpTap, Intel, Microsoft, NBC, PointRoll, R/GA and others.

Among the takeaways:

Mobile ad engagement metrics outpace desktop equivalent -- JumpTap reported three times the engagement in rich-media ads served on smartphones compared to traditional banners, and twice the views of mobile ad trailers for movie studio clients versus that on PCs.

PointRoll had similar findings, with iPad ad interaction at 1.10% vs. mobile at 0.5%, and desktop at 0.26%. This may be due to better targeting capabilities, as carriers are willing to share geo-location of subs with marketers, but could also be a function of smaller screen sizes, where the ads are more prominent and likely to be seen. Another factor, of course, could simply be the "wow" factor of a new device/format.

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Android gaining steam -- As of May, the iPhone had 59% share of mobile Web traffic, while Android had a 20% share, according to Quantcast. "Many people we spoke with said they are now developing more apps and ads for the Android OS than previously," stated the Citi report.

Beth Lubov Butrymowicz, Intel's Global Media Manager, said she found lower ad bounce rates on the Android OS vs. the iPhone (i.e. users were more likely to engage with ads on the Android OS), so the company plans to do more marketing on the Android platform. "We're a bit skeptical of the datapoint, but we find it interesting," according to Mahaney.

Mixed results on mobile search advertising -- Advertisers said search advertising on mobile works well for branded terms, but not for generic terms. Also, CPMs continue to be prohibitively high due to the current structure of two ads at the top, which result in aggressive bidding of keywords to get one's ad in one of those two spots. However, the market is getting better, and Google offers the most sophisticated targeting techniques today, which should get even better over time, according to the advertisers Citi spoke with.

Feature and not-so-smart-smartphones are also important -- JumpTap pointed out that 42% of its customers advertise on RIMM, followed by 24% on iPhone, 15% on Windows Mobile, and 13% on Android. Further, 55% of JumpTap's mobile traffic comes from feature phones and light-smartphones. SMS is also a very important form of mobile advertising. Separately, Intel pointed to a very successful mobile ad campaign that ran in Indonesia focused on feature phones.

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