Why Nokia Might Have Bought Mobile U.S. Analytics Firm Motally

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Nokia gobbled up the mobile analytics company Motally, with plans to integrate the technology into its Ovi applications store. The acquisition, announced Friday, should close before the end of the third quarter.

Motally's Tracker application supports iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry and Android. Nokia plans to adapt the company's technology to work with the Symbian platform, as well as Meego, Qt, and Java. With this acquisition, Nokia picks up its own mobile analytics provider in the U.S., which should allow advertisers and marketers to optimize budgets in Nokia apps.

Some ad experts have already begun to ponder the data possibilities that come from more targeted, mobile advertising. It all comes down to data when trying to understand consumer behavior, says Noah Elkin, eMarketer mobile senior analyst. "Nokia is a top global brand, but isn't as much of a player in the U.S. because they either sell low-end phones or very high end without carrier subsidies," he says. "Globally, Nokia has approximately half of the smartphone subscriber market and about 40% penetration."

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While the acquisition ties into global efforts, Elkin says the deal likely represents one piece in a bigger push toward the United States market. The latest numbers, which eMarketer expects to soon revise, put U.S. mobile advertising spend at nearly $1.6 billion in 2013, up from $593 million this year.

Globally, nearly 500 million people accessed the Internet through mobile devices in 2009 -- up from only 100 million in 2005, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. A study released earlier this week projects that number will reach 1.4 billion by 2014, bringing staggering opportunities for advertisers and marketers. Not an easy market for advertisers to ignore.

The mobile Internet has already exploded in Japan, which accounted for 53% of global spending on mobile Internet access in 2009. It gets better. Last year, mobile devices generated more than 60% of total Internet access spending in the country.

Other markets remain at the bottom of the growth curves. The rise of mobile will become one of three themes to emerge this year in the ad industry, according to a study released by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Analysts for the firm estimate mobile will come of age within the next year due to the penetration of smartphones and other Internet-enabled mobile devices.

The ability to analyze content on mobile devices will not stop with ads. In South Korea, more than 20 million people watched television on mobile devices in 2009, according to the PwC reports, estimating that by 2014, the number will exceed 30 million.

Nokia executives realize the acquisition should give developers who build apps insight into consumer behavior. Tie consumer behavior into location and time of day, says David Berkowitz, director of emerging media and client strategy, and the data becomes "very powerful" for advertisers as they build out campaigns.

It may give advertisers the opportunity to buy better inventory aligning with target demographics, but Tagga Media CEO Amielle Lake believes quantifying mobile conversion metrics still remains a challenge -- not because the data isn't available, but because advertisers still struggle with understanding what a conversion means in a mobile environment. "This is a long-standing problem, where the addition of new data around mobile behavior is extremely important," she says.

While Lake views Nokia's purchase of Motally as positive because it brings data to advertisers, that next should become a focus on tools that can improve the way advertisers interpret and use mobile analytics to make better decisions around their entire media plan, not just mobile.

Similar to Lake, Bryron Meunier, associate director of search engine optimization at Resolution Media, calls Nokia's Motally acquisition an awakening for mobile advertising because it provides advertisers and marketing executives with accountability for ad budgets and campaigns.

"When Google acquired Admob and Apple acquired Quattro Wireless at the beginning of this year, they both acquired world-class mobile analytics providers, though the talk was more on the mobile advertising networks that the analytics supported," he says, adding that marketers and advertisers are more likely to invest in Nokia mobile advertising, given this acquisition.

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