Despite Android Market Share Lead, iOS Devices Dominate InMobi Network

Global mobile ad network InMobi has released its latest "Insights Report" for the US market. Interestingly it finds Apple devices generating the majority of ad impressions despite their smaller overall hardware market share.

Apple's iOS devices have a 46% share of impressions on the InMobi network, compared with Android's collective 43.6% share. Here are the top five devices that InMobi sees on its network:

  • iPhone -- 27.5%
  • iPod -- 11.5%
  • iPad -- 7.0%
  • Amazon Kindle Fire --  2.8%
  • Motorola Razr -- 2.2%

While there is almost no Android presence in the top five (Kindle Fire is a quasi-Android device) the network says that Android growth is outpacing that of the iPhone. Compare InMobi's data to other ad networks, which show Android with a greater share of impressions. 

Jumptap (July, 2012): 

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Millennial Media (November, 2012): 

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The Millennial numbers above correspond almost exactly to comScore's market share data regarding handset penetration (October, 2012):

  • Google: 53.6%
  • Apple: 34.3%
  • RIM: 7.8%
  • Microsoft: 3.2%
  • Symbian: 0.6%

Google Taking Steps to Address the 'Fat Finger Problem'

There are a couple of studies that suggest a substantial percentage -- perhaps as much as 40% -- of mobile display ad clicks are unintended or "bad" in some way. Pontiflex and Trademob are the sources of these findings.

There are a number of ways to address this. One way is changing the billing or business model (moving from CTR to CPA); another is to ensure that clicks are truly intended. For example, mobile ad networks like YP and xAd ask users to confirm that they want to actually contact an advertiser or visit the advertiser's site/landing page.

Below is an example of that approach from the YP mobile ad network: 

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Now Google is taking steps in its banner ad creative to make sure that clicks are valid. The company said in a blog post that  

[M]ost accidental clicks on in-app image ads happen at the outer edge of the ad unit, likely when you’re trying to click or scroll to nearby content. Now if you click on the outer border of the ad, we’ll prompt you to verify that you actually meant to click on the ad to learn more.

Below are screens from the Google post. The company will require users to now click on a specific area of the banner ("visit site"). The entire banner won't be "clickable." 

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This is smart and together with other, similar efforts it should ensure that clicks and other consumer actions in response to mobile ads are intended and that advertisers are only charged for "valid" clicks and not fat-finger accidents.  

In one sense this is a solution to a practical problem but in another it's a symbolic, confidence-building measure for mobile display advertising. 

Nearly 40% of Smartphone Owners See Mobile Payments in Less Than Five Years

Last week eBay reported that it will realize "more than $10 billion in mobile volume for the year from its mobile apps and PayPal expects to transact more than $10 billion in mobile payment volume." Those are big numbers. If we visit some of the mobile payments forecasts the numbers get much bigger. 

Yet consumer surveys in the US and elsewhere reveal consumer ambivalence and even indifference to mobile payments. It does vary by age however, with younger users indicating greater interest than older people.

A survey we fielded in August (n=926 US adults) found that roughly 29% of respondents had varying degrees of interest, whereas 71% were "not at all interested" in mobile payments.

"How interested are you in using your mobile phone to pay for things as a replacement for cash or your credit cards?" 

  • I'm not at all interested: 71.3%
  • I have limited interest: 14.8%
  • I'm fairly interested: 7.2%
  • I'm extremely interested: 6.8%

In our survey people under 45 years of age were considerably more interested than people who were older. A new survey from Harris Interactive is more bullish on the outlook for mobile payments however, with smartphone owners reflecting much greater interest in mobile payments: 

“How interested are you in being able to use your smartphone to process in-person payments via tapping a special receiver, rather than using cash or payment cards? 

  • Very interested in using my smartphone instead of cash or cards: 8%
  • Somewhat interested in using my smartphone instead of cash or cards: 19%
  • Not very interested in using my smartphone instead of cash or cards: 12%
  • Not at all interested in using my smartphone instead of cash or cards: 43% 

In other words 27% were "Very" or "Somewhat Interested" while 57% were "Not Very" or "Not at All Interested." This was the full sample population. The following were the smartphone-only responses: 

  • Very interested in using my smartphone instead of cash or cards: 16%
  • Somewhat interested in using my smartphone instead of cash or cards: 28%
  • Not very interested in using my smartphone instead of cash or cards: 16%
  • Not at all interested in using my smartphone instead of cash or cards: 30% 

Thus "Very" or "Somewhat Interested" came out to be 44%, while "Not Very" or "Not at All Interested" was 47%. Quite a bit more interest accordingly. 

Smartphone owners in the 18-47 age range were most interested in mobile payments according to the Harris survey. In addition, 38% of smartphone owners saw mobile payments replacing card-based transactions "for a majority of purchases" within five years.  

Despite Better Performance, Mobile Ads Considered Just a Notch Above Spam

Mobile advertising is typically quite a bit more effective than comparable ads on the PC. Indeed, the data show that mobile search and display consistently outperform their PC counterparts. Yet mobile ads (especially display and SMS) are viewed with skepticism and distrust and rank near the bottom of all ad categories in consumer surveys.

This is something of a paradox to say the least. For example, Marin Software's Q3 aggregated client data report indicates the following about the relative performance (CTRs) of paid search ads on the PC, smartphones and tablets:

  • PCs: 2.35%
  • Tablets: 3.22%
  • Smartphones: 5.07% 

You might be quick to respond that smartphone click-through rates could be attributable to the so-called "fat finger" problem thus distorting their true performance. This problem -- and we can debate the extent of its reality -- doesn't really exist in a paid-search context.

These clicks are from intent-based queries and thus more inclined be "real" and reflective of a buying intent. In a display context an unintended click may be somewhat more likely. However mobile display outperforms PC display advertising across the board and consistently across studies. 

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According to 2011 Nielsen US consumer advertising-trust survey data (above), personal recommendations and traditional media ads are near the top and mobile ads are the least trusted of all the major ad categories. 

A more recent Millward Brown consumer survey (Q3 2012) found much the same thing. Mobile ads were at the bottom of favorability rankings among all ad types. The list below just shows digital categories: 

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There's no easy way to explain the apparent contradiction between negative consumer attitudes toward mobile ads and their otherwise superior performance to categories more trusted or ranked more highly.  

Mobile Devices Will Outnumber PCs Very Soon

If you're inclined to believe financial analysts then mobile device ownership (smartphones + tablets) will trump PC ownership on a global basis some time next year. At some point in the next 3 to 5 years we may have as many or more tablets than PCs. These are radical changes in the marketplace that are still slow to sink in with publishers and advertisers unfortunatley.  

The essential thing to understand is that tablets are PC replacement devices in most usage scenarios. Smartphones are used both at home and on the go. They tend to complement PC or laptop usage generally speaking. To accomodate these users and usage scenarios much in advertising, mobile site design and e-commerce has to change. 

The following chart from Pew lays out US device ownership and trends over the past six years.  

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PC ownership (including laptops) has really peaked in the US at about 61% according to the Pew survey data. Mobile phone penetration is 85% (smartphones at 50%+) and tablets at 25% (after the holidays it will be greater). 

So what does this all mean in terms of real numbers? It means that if there are roughly 250 million US adults then there are:

  • 152 million laptop owners (+ some additional number of desktop PC owners) 
  • 212 million mobile phone owners (and about 108 million adult smartphone owners)
  • 62 million tablet owners 

If teens are included there are more than 120 million mobile internet users today in the US. That's just over half the total PC internet population.

A new forecast from Informa Telecoms argues that the mobile phone market will be dominated on a global basis by sub-$150 devices by 2017. Regardless of the accuracy of that prediction, prices are indeed coming down. That means more smartphone penetration and more mobile internet access.

What it also means is that PC-centric publishing, e-commerce and advertising will need to give way to a multi-platform approach and a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of consumer behavior -- amid an even more challenging attribution environment. 

Examination of Apps Shows Small Minority Share Location

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today released a study of privacy and mobile apps for kids. The report was a follow up to an earlier study issued in January. Both reports were highly critical of app developers and app stores. Both found that parents weren't given enough information to assess privacy policies and whether or how their kids' information was being used. 

The FTC looked at 400 apps (randomly selected) that were directed toward kids. The agency compared privacy policies and actual practices. It found: 

[The] industry appears to have made little or no progress in improving its disclosures since the first kids’ app survey was conducted . . . most apps failed to provide basic information about what data would be collected from kids, how it would be used, and with whom it would be shared.

In a few cases privacy policies were directy contradicted by actual practices and the FTC called these apps deceptive and potentially illegal.  

The report's findings are interesting and potentially important for the debate over mobile privacy. However the specific finding I want to focus on here has to do with the number of apps that transmitted location information to ad networks. 

Mobile apps (for kids) that share information with developers and ad networks 

 

Source: FTC 

Only 3% of apps that transmitted information back to developers and ad networks shared location data. The iPhone makes that process more explicit than does Android. But when location isn't shared there can't be any location-based ads.

Apps for kids aren't ncessarily representative of the entire universe of apps. Indeed, location may be much less of a factor in apps for kids. But the data may be directionally consistent with the market as a whole, inducating how relatively few apps today offer opportunities to display location-based ad inventory. 

Is This the 'Breakthrough Quarter' for Windows Phones?

You can't turn on the TV, Internet or open a publication without encountering an ad for Windows Phones. And there are conflicting data about whether it's working and the corresponding strength of Windows Phone sales.

Several data sources continue to indicate tepid demand in North America but there is also some evidence that Windows Phone sales may be going reasonably well in certain parts of the world. The blog WMPoweruser identifies growth in the usage of Facebook apps for Windows Phones and extrapolates an increased sales trend on that basis: 

Using the number of Monthly Active Facebook users as a guide, we can see around 627,000 MAU of the built-in Facebook app has been added since the 1st October 2012, the start of the quarter.

Last year over the same period less than 150,000 was added by the 15th December, possibly hinting at the source of Steve Ballmer’s statement that “Windows Phones are so far selling at four times the rate of the same time last year” Last year according to Gartner, who claims to measure units actually sold to end users rather than shipments, said 2.759 million Windows Phones were sold in Q4 2011.

The data suggests already 7 million Windows Phones were sold so far this quarter, and we may finally be heading to a + 10 million Windows Phone quarter.

If in fact Windows Phones were to sell 10 million units to end users it would indeed be a breakthrough for the beleaguered platform. However there's other data to suggest that Windows Phones are not doing as well as that. For example, the most recent comScore US mobile market share data show that Windows continues to lose overall share to iOS and Android:

 

There are also recent sales data from Kantar Worldpanel that show Windows Phones losing share in accordance with the comScore data above:

However in Europe Windows Phones are making some inroads, probably as a result of Nokia's promotional efforts and legacy brand strength. While the EU5 shows a 4.7 percent market share (growth of 1.7% vs. a year ago) individual countries vary widely.

In Italy, Spain and the UK Windows Phones have performed better than in Germany and France. In Italy in particular Windows Phones have gained almost 8 points and now stand at an 11.7 percent share of recent sales according to Kantar. Again, this is probably on the strength of the Nokia brand in Europe.

Elsewhere around the world Windows Phone sales appear to be modest. However in "urban China" Kantar says Windows Phones contstitute 4.2% of all recent smartphone sales.  

It is possible that all these sales combined represent several million units around the world. But while there does seem to be momentum in certain countries it doesn't yet appear that this is a 10 million unit "breakthrough quarter" for the operating system. 

Mobile Apps Challenge TV for Temporal Supremacy

Flurry Analytics has been chronicling the rise of the app ecosystem and the growth of app usage by consumers for several years. In January of this year the company released data arguing that daily time spent with mobile apps had surpassed the PC internet: 94 minutes vs. 72 minutes per day. And earlier today Flurry released an analysis of US consumer time spent with mobile apps vs. television.

Ad network InMobile asserted earlier this year that consumers are now spending more time on a daily basis with mobile media than they do with TV:

[M]obile ranks first in media consumption among Americans with 2.4 hours of the 9 hours spent consuming media on mobile devices—this is more than a quarter of time spent on mobile, outpacing TV (2.35 hours), PCs (1.6 hours) and any other channel.

However according to the data compiled by Flurry, consumers are spending 127 minutes per day with mobile apps compared to 168 minutes per day with TV.  TV time is basically flat, or slighly down according to Nielsen, while app-time is gaining according to Flurry. 

 

Nielsen itself says that people in the US spend roughly 4 hours and 18 minutes per day on average with conventional TV (vs. 168 minutes [2.8 hours] in the Flurry graph). That would be about 2X of the time spent with mobile apps, using the Flurry figures.

The question of whether time spent with mobile already exceeds TV time or closing in on it is largely symbolic. The larger point is that consumers are highly engaged with mobile devices and the mobile internet. That trend will only continue to grow and gain in the next several years. Mobile ad spending, however, is nowhere near commensurate with the kind of time and attention that consumers are spending with mobile media. The chart below (also courtsey of Flurry) illustrates the huge disparity between the two.

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Mary Meeker has argued that, based in part on this familiar time-spent formula, mobile advertising is basically a $20 billion opportunity in the US. That may be the case eventually -- though advertisers and their agencies aren't totally "rational." But in the near term are many barriers to the free flow of ad dollars into mobile right now: organizational politics and culture, lack of advertiser education, lack of budget and perhaps most of all lack of "clear ROI." 

It took a very long time for online advertising to attract the kind of ad dollars that were more or less consistent with consumer time spent online. It won't take quite as long for mobile to ramp. But it could still be a number of years before mobile marketing and advertising are significant budget items for the majority of advertisers.

For their part consumers are mostly indifferent to whether or how soon companies embrace mobile marketing and advertising. While they prefer mobile friendly sites and user-experiences they don't particularly care if marketers are fully exploiting mobile ad opportunities.

However, if marketers do not as the Thanksgiving holiday weekend has already proven, it will be their missed opportunity. 

The Most Interesting Mary Meeker Slides about Mobile

Former Morgan Stanley financial analyst, now KPCB partner, Mary Meeker did one of her patented blizzard of stats/data dump presentations at Stanford University the other evening. The slides (available here) are essentially an updated version of a presentation given earlier this year. 

You know most of the material by now. However, below are the most interesting slides I culled from a much longer set. They go to device adoption and mobile ad revenue projections. 

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The noteworthy thing about the above chart is that it argues there are 172 million smartphone subscribers in the US. If that's true it would mean a smartphone share of something like 68% or 73% depending on the base used. This is undoubtedly high. But it's not unreasonable to argue that there may be 60% smartphone penetration by the end of Q4 in the US (or early Q1). 

From the chart below: there may not in fact be 5 billion individual mobile phone users around the world. There are "only" 7 billion people on the planet. It's probably more accurate to assert there are something like 5 billion subscriptions/SIM cards (there are some dual subscriptions). Still the global smartphone growth opportunity is massive. 

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The following chart is based on Pew survey data, showing that 29% (as of earlier this year) of US adults owned a tablet or eReader. Tablets are going to be the number one electronics gift item this year. We could be looking at 80 million total tablets in the US in Q1 2013. 

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What's most interesting about the slide below is that it projects tablet ownership to pass PC ownership by the end of next year; in other words: more tablets than PCs. This may be a aggressive forecast but it's not out of the question. 

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The final slide is about mobile advertising and app revenue. There are many sources behind this projection. It envisions a $20 billion global market by the end of the year, with mobile advertising around $6 or so billion. 

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US mobile advertising was worth roughly $1.2 in the first half and is on track to be somewhere between $2.6 and $2.8 billion for the full year 2012. Globally mobile ad revenues will probably reach between $5.5 and $6 billion by the end of Q4 this year.

Nielsen: 79% of Mobile Consumer Time Spent with Apps

Social networks and social-mobile apps are undeniably mainstream at this point. Indeed, mobile is where much of the growth is happening for social media. A new report, compiled from Q2 data and issued by Nielsen, illustrates this and compares time spent and access by media device.

What the data show is that the amount of time people are spending with mobile devices (vs. PC) is growing and that mobile apps continue to be where mobile time is concentrated. Along with smartphone and tablet penetration, mobile time overall has grown vs. 2011 but growth has been concentrated in mobile apps. They see roughly 79% of consumer time with mobile media and the mobile internet. 

Mobile media time overall is now roughly 43% of the time spent on PCs as of Q2 2012. 

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Mobile use of social networks tends to show slightly higher levels of engagement than on the PC. In mobile, as on the PC, women tend to be more engaged than men. But the most engaged groups are slightly different in each category.

The most engaged group of mobile social media users is the 25 - 34 age range, whereas on the PC it's the 18 - 24 year old cohort.

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The following chart illustrates that among the major social sites, Facebook dramatically leads in terms of time spent (although Instagram isn't present on this list). In addition, time is roughly divided 85% mobile apps vs. 15% mobile web. And while the ratios are slightly different for each social media publishers the directional trend is the same -- toward mobile apps.

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Nielsen also looked at the major ways in which consumers connect to the Internet generally. It found that the PC was still the dominant way but that PC penetration was down slightly since a year ago. By contrast, as you might expect, mobile access to the Internet has grown significantly on smartphones and especially on tablets.
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Marketers who continue to ignore or only nominally address smartphone and tablet users -- especially app users -- are losing access to an increasingly large user base and may be doing their brands and reputations harm in the process.