UK Publishers Blame Agencies And Ad Nets For Sluggish Mobile Revenue Growth

Finger-Pointing-As we discovered last week during the OMMA Mobile Europe event in London, UK publishers are taking very seriously the enormous disconnect between audience migration to mobile platforms and incremental revenue. And now a survey of leading content providers by the Association of Online Publishers is pointing the finger of blame squarely at the ad agencies and the current ad infrastructure. When asked to identify the leading inhibitor to revenue generation from mobile and tablet platforms, 55% of respondents to the AOP survey cited “agencies attitude towards or focus on mobile” in holding back mobile, while almost as many (52%) pointed to “dependency on low yield ad networks.”

The survey finds that 87% of publishers are getting at least 20% of their traffic from devices, while only 29% say they generate 20% or more of their revenue from these sources.

AOP Director Lee Baker said in a statement that he expected ad agency attitudes to start catching up with actual mobile activity in the coming year. He predicts ad revenues to mobile will double in the next year, that publishers will find more fluid ways of directing the same content from their CMS to different platforms, and that users will agree to trade personal data for free mobilized content.

Despite the challenges, publishers in the UK are upbeat about prospects, with 91% citing tablets as the greatest opportunity for growing revenue, and 85% citing mobile as having big upside. More than half of respondents (52%) still see audience size as the main source of slow revenue growth on tablets.

When it comes to mobile revenue inhibitors, only 10% of suppliers think that difficulties in measurement are to blame, while 38% cite the lack of skills among in-house sales staff and challenges in formats and reporting (28%)

In developing new apps and mobile products, a clear majority of 72% complain that platform fragmentation across device types) represent the principal roadblock, while 56% point to the absence of in-house skills and revenue from these platforms.

At last week’s OMMA Mobile event in London, FT’s Rob Grimshaw acknowledged that the gap between mobile use and monetization represented a critical challenge to media. A failure to craft much better models for generating revenue from devices could prove “catastrophic,” he warned.  You can see Grimshaw’s keynote and all of the content from OMMA Mobile Europe here

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