Opera: Europe Eats Into U.S. Mobile Ad Dominance

SmartPhone-Blackberry-A4The European mobile market continues to grow briskly at the expense of the U.S. market. The U.S. share of traffic on Opera’s mobile ad network fell to 50.7% in the first quarter from 60.5% in the prior quarter, while Europe’s jumped from 14.6% to 21.5%. 

The bulk of the European impressions came from five countries: the U.K., Italy, Germany, France and Spain. Higher iOS and Android penetration in those countries as well as increased ad loads on mobile sites and apps are driving the overall growth of mobile advertising, according to the latest data from Opera Mediaworks.

That’s especially true in the U.K, where the Interactive Advertising Bureau estimates mobile ad spending surged 148% to $802 million last year. “Europe has had relatively high "smartphone" penetration but this was mainly around higher-end Nokia and Blackberry devices, which didn't drive a lot of mobile Web traffic or app traffic,” noted Mahi de Silva, executive vice president of consumer mobile at Opera.

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He added that the mobile properties of media brands, such as CBS, News Corp., Dow Jones and Shazam, have seen strong growth in Europe over the quarter. More broadly, music, video and media -- grouped as a single segment -- was the leading content category in both share of overall ad revenue and traffic on the Opera network, which serves 50 billion ad impressions a month and reaches a global audience of 300 million.

While the U.S. share of impressions has fallen to half, the market still accounts for three-quarters of revenue on the network.

When it comes to devices, the iPhone and Android handsets engage in a running battle on the network. In the first quarter, the iPhone and Android smartphones were roughly even, with the former claiming a 31.9% share of impressions compared to 31.3% for the latter.

Thanks to the iPad and iPod touch, iOS overall maintained its commanding lead over Android, with 44.5% of traffic versus 31.2% for the Google mobile platform. The iPad alone generated 6% of all ad impressions, and 12% of revenue. Android is still only a blip in the tablet advertising arena--devices running the system were responsible for just 1% of traffic, and a 0.5% of revenue.

iOS was well ahead of Android in monetization overall, generating the highest average eCPM and highest percentage of publisher revenue. The Apple platform drove nearly half (49.2%) of all revenue on Opera MediaWorks’ network, with Android accounting for 26.7%. BlackBerry chipped in 6.2%, and Symbian 2.5%.

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