Mobile Ad Serving Still In Test Mode Among Publishers

Publishers are in the very early stages of establishing mobile ad infrastructure, and they continue to try out a range of solutions in an already fragmented market. According to a survey of 95 online and mobile publishers fielded by InsightExpress on behalf of Mocean Mobile, almost half of respondents had at least tried DART for Mobile over the past two years, but 41% had also tested AdMarvel, 34% Mocean and 19% Nexage.

And when it comes to the currently used solution for many publishers, DART (17%), AdMarvel (14%) and Mocean (13%) have to contend with 15% of the market that still relies on in-house or custom ad-serving technologies. “There is a heck of a lot of experimentation going on,” says InsightExpress’s Joy Liuzzo. “When you see this much experimentation, it is indicative that folks are interested in learning.”

“And they probably are not finding all of their needs solved in one place,” Liuzzo adds. The research shows that publishers often are favoring different vendors for apps, mobile Web, video and rich media. In fact, the prominence of custom solutions in the mobile ad-serving mix suggests that many publishers still feel the need to knit things together. And the mobile media also find their own inventory fragmented across models. About 45% of respondents say they are responsible for selling less than half of their own mobile ad inventory. Only 55% are selling 50% or more of their inventory. And in most cases, it is the ad sales group that is driving the decisions about which ad servers to use, not ad operations.



And while the mobile marketing air is filled with promises of advanced targeting available on this platform, it is most interesting that publishers themselves are mainly looking for ad technologies that help them report metrics, control campaigns and unify platforms. When asked to rank the functionalities most important in choosing a server, 75% put reporting and analytics in one of the top 5 ranks, far ahead of campaign management tools (59%) and even farther ahead of multi-mobile platform serving (51%). Targeting against demographics or behaviors were much lower priorities, ranked in the top 5 by 25% and 19%, respectively.

When it comes to developing content in the near future, iOS continues to outpace all comers. Fully 72% of publishers said they planned to focus “very aggressively” on iPhone and 56% said the same about iPad. In contrast, and despite phenomenal growth in worldwide penetration this year, only 53% were strongly aimed at Android. But even more curious is the lingering ambivalence toward mobile Web. Even as many ad agencies and mobile marketers recommend that clients optimize sites for mobile browsers and get them into the mobile search ecosystem, only 39% said they were aggressively focused on this platform.

InsightExpress fielded its survey of publishers between mid August and December 2011. Almost half of the respondents were serving between 200 million and 500 million impressions a month. 

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