Numbers are everywhere as we head into the final month of 2012 -- an undisputed "year of mobile" -- and many sources have released loads of market share and device penetration figures over the past week. Some of those numbers are meaningful and some are not.
Among them ad network Millennial Media put out some monthly device figures this morning, based on ad impression share on its network. I'll take a quick look at those numbers and then discuss some of the other recent device data in the market, with an emphasis on tablets.
The iPhone is the single most prevalent device (and has been so for several years) on the Millennial Network. It generated 16% of all the ad impressions in Q3, while iOS devices in total generated 31% of all Millennial's ad impressions. Collectively Samsung devices (phones, tablets) were responsible for 24% of impressions; the second most prevalent device OEM.
RIM devices were responsible for 7% of ad impressions, which is now basically on par ith the company's overall market share in the US. There are no Windows Phones in the top 20 on Millennial's network. Windows Phones (Lumia in particular) has sold reasonably well in select countries in Europe (i.e., Spain, UK, Italy). However they have not sold well in the US.
While Apple is the leading manufacturer and has the leading device on the Millennial network, Android devices dominate collectively -- with 52% of all impressions, compared with 34% for iOS. This share breakdown is almost identical to comScore's September US smartphone market share data.
Finally Millennial ranks the top tablets on its network (see graphic above). The iPad leads, followed by the Samsung GalaxyTab, Kindle Fire and others. Tablets will clearly be one of the most popular holiday gifts and the top electronics item sold in Q4.
It's curious to see the Acer and Motorola tablets on Millennial's list. From a sales and traffic standpoint there are now effectively three tablets in the market: the iPad (and Mini), Google's Nexus tablets (mainly the Nexus 7) and Kindle Fire devices. While the Nook and Galaxy Tab have some market presence they're essentially "also-rans" at this point. The Galaxy Tab has had greater success in Europe.
A new report from ABI Research claims that the iPad's share (of shipments) fell to 55%, down 14 points in Q3. Lower-priced tablets from Google-ASUS and Amazon are driving a lot of sales to be sure. Indeed, Amazon made the claim earlier this week that Kindle device sales more than doubled over last year.
But collectively we need to get rid of "shipments" as a market-share metric. It's widely used because it's easier for analyst firms to track than actual sales. However it's not meaningful in any sense. As an industry we need to shift to actual device sales or even other metrics such as web traffic/transactions. This past weekend's data have shown this.
What do sales matter if devices aren't widely used or are used for very limited purposes. For example Kindle Fire devices, though they're selling well, are essentially used to consume Amazon content. They don't show up very often on internet traffic reports. And while the impact of Nexus devices has yet to be fully felt, the broader notion (promoted by the ABI report) that Android tablets now constitute nearly half the devices in the market is misleading.
As widely discussed earlier this week, the iPad is the only tablet right now that appears to matter in a "real world" sense. According to this weekend's e-commerce data from IBM, the iPad generated 88% of tablet traffic on Black Friday and more than 90% on Cyber Monday.
In Q2 ad network Chitika found that the iPad was responsible for almost 95% of the tablet traffic on its network. Other publishers and e-commerce sellers report similar results: so far the iPad is the only tablet that matters.
E-commerce site Fab.com has said that 95% of its mobile sales come from iOS devices. And tablet content platform Onswipe has said that the iPad is responsible for a remarkable 98% of all tablet-based traffic to the company's publisher partner network. Based on global web traffic data from Q2 this is what actual usage market share looks like:
Despite Android's dominance in terms of device penetration the majority of mobile web traffic in the US (not to mention transactions) is coming from iOS devices. And when it comes to tablet traffic alone, there is no Android surge.
There may be a lot of Android tablets out there but engagement and usage levels are far below the iPad.
There's lots of news today about the role mobile is playing in the just-started holiday shopping season. Most notably IBM reported a couple of days ago that on "Black Friday," mobile buying "soared with 24 percent of consumers using a mobile device to visit a retailer's site, up from 14.3 percent in 2011. Mobile sales exceeded 16 percent [of online commerce], up from 9.8 percent in 2011."
But even more noteworthy than the increasing role that mobile is playing in holiday shopping, is the discrepancy between iOS and Android in terms of web traffic and user purchase behavior.
Call it the "Android paradox." In the US Android handsets represent 52.5% of smartphone market. Apple's iPhone holds 34.3%. The share that is controlled by iOS is larger when the iPad is factored in but Android is the dominant OS in the US and globally.
When you look at mobile internet visits, however, the relationship shifts -- with the iPhone and iOS driving much more web traffic than Android. Apple's devices also generate much more in the way of e-commerce sales vs. Android. Website Fab.com reports that 95% of its mobile sales are coming from iOS devices.
IBM reported that 58% of consumers (of the 16% who bought something on a mobile device) used smartphones to shop for deals, while 41 percent used tablets. Here's how the traffic distribution broke down on Black Friday in the US:
The iPhone and iPad combined for the bulk of mobile shopping, while on the tablet side the iPad generated 88% of the traffic in its category. There's something very strange about the fact that iOS users generate much more internet traffic and mobile buying than their Android peers -- given that there are more Android users out there.
There have been various attempts to explain this traffic and commerce discrepancy, chief among them the theory that Android owners are less sophisticated, affluent and engaged. While there's clearly some validity to this theory it doesn't entirely explain what's going on.
One of the most eagerly sought electronics products this year is the tablet. We should see millions of them bought over the holidays. Indeed, tablets will be an enormously popular gift item. But which one(s) will be successful and which ones will fade?
Today, for "Cyber Monday," Amazon is promoting the upgraded Kindle Fire (with special offers) for $129 vs. its normal $159 (reduced from last year's $199). This should generate quite a few sales.
However the Kindle Fire is not as popular on Google as the company's own Nexus 7 or the iPad Mini. According to data released by Google earlier today the following are the Top 10 Google Search Shopping Queries (today):
Meanwhile PriceGrabber shows a somewhat different list of "most searched" electronics products:
Both of the above lists indicate the Nexus 7 is the most "searched for" tablet out there -- even the most popular product. However, over at Amazon Kindle Fire and other Kindle devices dominate the electronics bestseller list.
Finally, a recent consumer survey Opus conducted (n=1,048 US adults) asked "Are you planning to buy a tablet computer this holiday season?" Here were the results:
In our survey Nexus 7 was the least desired of the tablets and iPads were the most popular. All this data seems to suggest that iPad, Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire will do well, while Surface, Nook and other "no name" tablets will generally be ignored and suffer.
There's a relatively common perception that "daily deals are dead." What's more accurate to say is that the daily deals "bubble" has burst and consumers are burned out on push email marketing, where many of the deals are irrelevant to their interests or needs. But it would be inaccurate to say that "deals are dead."
Coupons and deals remain popular among consumers and mobile users in particular. According to data from Nielsen, xAd and Telmetrics, the three top reasons that a mobile user would engage with an ad are the following:
Consistent with the findings above, "search for/receive mobile offers" (especially locally relevant ones) is one of the top three "mobile commerce" activities that users engage in according to 2012 data from the US Federal Reserve and JiWire. They also search for coupons on smartphones while in stores according to multiple surveys and behavioral studies.
A new set of data from Nielsen tries to identify where mobile users get those deals and coupons. A majority get mobile vouchers from retailers directly (sites/apps), followed by deal of the day sites/apps.
Among the daily deal apps Nielsen found that the "usual suspects" were the most often used: Groupon, LivingSocial, Google Offers and AmazonLocal (LivingSocial). Amazingly, of those who have sought out daily deals on their smartphones, 91% have done so through the Groupon app.
This shows that relatively few daily deal vendors have any brand awareness and usage beyond these major sites. But among them Groupon is far and away the leader.
Apple's products constitute four out of the top five most-requested gifts by US kids (under 13) according to a recent poll by Nielsen. Among those over 13 the iPad still ranks as the most desired object for the holidays.
In the 6-12 age group, "tablet other than the iPad" shows up in 8th position but Microsoft Surface specifically appears second from last on the list, just ahead of Apple TV. In the over-13 age group, non-Apple tablet is 3rd though Microsoft Surface and Kindle Fire are lower on the list. Microsoft Surface is again second from the bottom on the over-13 list with a lower percentage of respondents interested than in the under-13 cohort.
The sample size wasn't disclosed and the question asked isn't technically about the holidays but about purchase interest or intent "in the next six months." However these requests will probably register in December. If parents comply it should be a very good quarter for Apple. Below are the full lists.
Kids under 13:
Kids 13 and over:
Opus is in the midst of a consumer survey asking about which tablet they intend to buy over the holidays. In our survey (still in process) 85% of respondents said they weren't planning to buy one now. However the age group most interested is 25-34; 21% say they plan to buy a tablet in the immediate future.
Overall, among those who've said they're planning to buy a tablet during the holidays, the ranking is as follows:
The IAB just released its second mobile shopping report, including its ranking of the most "mobile savvy" cities in the US. Houston, remarkably, comes out on top for a second year. Houston is also the "fattest city in America" according to Men's Fitness magazine.
The mobile shopping study also found surprisingly high numbers of users who owned "connected devices" (tablet and/or smartphone). The numbers here are much higher than Nielsen and comScore figures for smartphone ownership. According to the data the San Francisco Bay Area had the highest smart device penetration at 78%. Among the top DMAs Detroit was lowest with 62%. I suspect these numbers are not entirely representative of the mobile subscriber population and a bit high -- though perhaps not radically so.
The IAB report, which draws from a variety of survey and data sources, confirms that smartphone users are aggressive and engaged mobile shoppers but they generally don't buy things on those devices (tablets are different). The IAB (citing comScore) reports that 86% of US smartphone owners visited retailer websites or used retailer mobile apps in July.
The graphic above doesn't entirely make sense (81% vs. 85.9%) but it makes the larger point that most smartphone owners are accessing retail information on their devices.
In stores smartphone owners use their devices to communicate with other people about intended purchases, check prices and product information and look for deals. However only 5% in this survey bought anything with their mobile handsets.
The report also confirms that most tablets are not used "on the go," while shopping. However that may change with the advent of carrier-supported 7-inch tablets and the 5-inch Galaxy Note (also obnoxiously known as a "Phablet").
This is just one more set of data that underscore the importance of being "mobile ready" and fully understanding how mobile can be used for customer acquisition and customer service, even in stores. Mobile is an instrument of "showrooming" but it can also be an avenue for customer service and retention among traditional retailers. Yet most are simply not ready.
The battle between Apple and Android is quickly turning into a face off between Apple and Samsung as the latter obliterates all other Android competitors. This morning Samsung announced massive Q3 profit, while IDC estimated that the Korean conglomerate had shipped just under 57 million smartphones in the quarter.
By comparison Apple sold just under 27 million iPhones in its fiscal Q4, which ended September 30.
A noteworthy aside related to the chart above, Nokia is gone from the ranks of the top global smartphone vendors.
In contrast to Samsung, HTC, which had been one of the early leaders with Android, is now really struggling. The company saw a nearly 50% decline in revenue for Q3. In part because it's getting squeezed out of the Android market by Samsung's success, HTC has turned its attentions back to Windows in an effort to diversify revenues.
However, unless or until Windows Phones start to gain share, the smartphone landscape is really about Apple and Samsung. Everyone and everything else is just an "also-ran."
A few years ago Opera bought mobile ad mediator AdMarvel. Today the company released its Q3 State of the Mobile Web report, which focuses on advertising. It features some great data about platforms, revenue categories and CPM rates. All the data are drawn from Opera's global network of publishers and advertisers representing 40 billion ad impressions per month.
One of the major findings is that 70% of mobile ad impressions are happening in North America (mostly the US). Asia is next and then Europe.
Distribution of ad impressions globally
Opera also reported eCPM rates by region. The global average eCPM was $1.31, with the US average slightly higher at $1.37 and Europe lower at $1.13:
Opera reported on ad revenue by smart device. The company said that iOS devices generated more revenue and higher eCPM rates than competing devices:
Once again, this quarter, iOS leads the pack in monetization performance with an average eCPM of $1.64. This outperforms the global average eCPM of $1.31 by over 25%.
The iPhone and iPad in particular saw higher eCPM rates than other devices. Interestingly, despite the much larger number of Android phones, the iPhone generates roughly 2X Android revenue for Opera.
The company also pointed out that while RIM/BlackBerry is losing share in global markets its position remains strong in the UK.
Opera said that the category "Business, Finance & Investing" generates more ad revenue than any other in its network. It also said that 73% of Opera's mobile ad revenue is coming from apps (vs. mobile Web).
You can review the full report here.
Based on a survey of 2,010 US respondents, the Pew Internet Project found that about 1% of mobile phone owners had made a presidential campaign contribution through their mobile phones. This compares with 13% of all US adults who've made a contribution (using any method) to one of the presidential candidates in 2012.
By comparison, roughly 10% of US adults "have made a charitable donation of any kind using the text messaging feature on their cell phone." Among the 13% who've made a presidential campaign contribution, Pew says:
Regarding party affiliation and contributions, Pew found that "16% of Democrats and an identical number of Republicans have made a contribution to a presidential candidate . . ." However most Republicans make their contributions "offline," while Democrats "are much more likely" to make a digital contribution:
Earlier data from 2012, generated through surveys from UC Berkeley, Google and IPSOS, show that between 20% and 35% of US adults have made purchases (of one sort or another) on their mobile phones. It's not clear, however, whether these numbers include buying music or mobile apps -- probably yes.
Over time more and more people will simply use mobile devices to do what they would otherwise do on a PC, including making political contributions. In addition, people will become increasingly comfortable using stored credit card data to buy things with their phones.
To get more of the "lowdown" on mobile payments come see my panel at the Open Mobile Summit in San Francisco on November 7. The session is "Wallet wars: Mobile payments from theory to practice" and will feature speakers from PayPal, Google, HomeDepot and Visa.
For several reasons I had occasion to look back at some of the mobile predictions I made in January. At the risk of sounding self-important or boastful many of them have come to pass. In fact I was somewhat surprised by the number, which is why I'm posting about it now.
For review, here are the original predictions from January:
Here are my comments and updates on each item:
Not bad . . .
Under some pressure to show that it's monetizing mobile, yesterday on its earnings call, Google announced a new "mobile run rate" of $8 billion. That compares with a run rate of $2.5 billion a year ago. The numbers aren't a direct comparison; Google threw everything into the $8 billion figure (ads, Google Play, app sales).
Here's what CEO Larry Page said in announcing the new run-rate number yesterday:
This time last year, I announced that our run rate from mobile advertising hit $2.5 billion . . . But now, we’ve built up additional mobile revenue from users paying for content and apps in Google Play . . . I can announce our new run rate for mobile is now over $8 billion. That’s quite a business.
CFO Patrick Pichette added a small amount of additional clarity:
The new [mobile] run rate is different from the one we gave you a year ago. And more specifically, last year, it included only our gross revenue from mobile ads, but this year, in this number we also added the gross revenue from the mobile sales of Google Play content. And finally, it also includes the consumer spending on the Play apps . . .
[O]f the three categories I gave you, ads continues to be the bulk of it, the vast majority of it. And then on the case of the Google Play, it’s important to note from a modeling perspective that everything’s that’s content, that is whether a book, a movie content is actually booked on our books on a gross basis . . . Everything that is tied to apps is booked on a net basis, but it’s still a huge kind of number in all cases.
Pichette said the "vast majority" of the $8 billion in revenue was comprised of mobile ads. Trying to estimate what percentage of this figure is ads with greater precision than "vast majority" is a bit tricky.
Google is counting content sales on a gross basis and app sales on a net basis (30% of the total). Despite Android's larger footprint than iOS, Google Play makes less money than the iTunes App Store.
In March, Flurry said that revenues in the Google Play market were 23% of the App Store. However this was limited to app sales and not content (if I'm reading it correctly). Google includes content sales (movie rentals/sales, book sales) on a gross basis.
Apple makes roughly $4 billion annually on App Store sales according to financial analyst estimates. Twenty three percent of that would be $920 million. If we assume that Google Play app sales have increased since Q1 Google night now be seeing a $1 to $1.5 billion app sales run rate on a global basis.
It's harder to estimate gross content sales; I haven't seen any estimates of Google content sales at all. Google's content sales are nothing like Amazon's. However, let's be extremely generous and say that it's $2 billion (gross) on an annualized basis.
Using these extremely loose estimates, $5 to $6 billion of the $8 billion run rate would be attributable to ad sales and $3 to $3.5 billion to content and app sales. Pichette's language "vast majority" to me implies something around 70% to 75% (or more) of the $8 billion is ad revenue. That would be right between $5 and $6 billion.
Google inadvertently released its Q3 revenues early today. The company reported that consolidated revenues (including Motorola) were $14.1 billion, a 45% increase vs. last year. Google said that Motorola brought in $2.58 billion. However there was an operating loss of $527 million. Indeed it was argulaby the weak link in the Q3 earnings report.
Minus Motorola, Google's revenues were $11.5 billion with 67% of that coming from Google sites vs. its third party network and other revenue sources. Paid search clicks grew roughly 33% vs 2011. However cost per clicks (CPCs) were down about 15% vs. last year.
While Google has yet to directly address this, the reason for the lower CPCs is likely the growth of mobile search and the shift of some categories of queries to mobile devices from the PC.
Mobile search volumes have grown significantly; however marketers value mobile clicks less than PC search clicks. The main reason is the challenge of proving ROI. Consistently we see that mobile click-through rates (CTR) are higher than on the PC. But "conversions" are much lower.
Part of the reason may be the infamous "fat finger" problem. But the larger issue is how marketers are defining and tracking conversions. The e-commerce-centric way of thinking about conversions just doesn't work for mobile. Most users don't transact on their smartphones. They go into stores -- where 95% of retail spending happens -- or they follow up on PCs and tablets later to buy.
Because marketers can't generally track in-store transactions or later PC/tablet conversions they assign a low ROI to smartphone based queries. This in turn causes them to bid less on those keywords.
In the local segment, there's a shift going on from PC map-based queries to smartphones. A Google representative recently said that up to 50% of mobile search queries carry a local intent. And comScore recently documented that trend and argued that map-based search on the PC had peaked and was now in decline:
In the past six months alone, according to comScore Mobile Metrix, the number of smartphone visitors to Maps websites and apps has jumped 24% to 92 million unique visitors – a monthly penetration of 83% among smartphone users . . .Searches with a Mapping/Navigation intent on the Big 5 Engines are down 34% over the past 15 months, going from 74.8 million to 49.5 million in August. comScore Search Planner shows that search clicks to Map/Navigation sites show an even steeper decline, down 41% to just 55.2 million in August.
We're likely to continue to see a flattening of local search volumes on the PC and a continuing shift to mobile devices (mobile web and apps). Nobody really knows how much local search query volume is flowing through mobile apps. However a January 2012 survey found that half of smartphone owners conducted local search in apps, with Google Maps being the leading app.
Once marketers more fully embrace mobile and get more sophisticated about ROI we should see the price of mobile advertising and mobile CPCs increase. Google of course will be one of the chief beneficiaries of such a development.
The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) is tracking the number of US households that are "wireless only" or primarily wireless. Wireless only means there is no landline in the house; primarily wireless means that people receive "all or almost all calls on wireless telephones despite also having a landline telephone."
My wife and I, and others we know, fall into that second category. We have a landline but rarely use it. It's a number we give out for "official purposes" and it acts as a telemarketing "spam catcher." The majority of people who call that number get voice mail.
The last time I wrote about this data, in June, the CDC reported that just under 30% (29.7%) of American households were wireless only. Beyond this, 15.7% of US homes received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones." In total, 45.4% of US homes were either mostly mobile or wireless only. The CDC findings were based on polling data from the first half of 2011.
Earlier this week I checked back to see if the numbers had changed at all since June. They have; they've continued to grow.
According to CDC data collected between July and December 2011, 34% of American homes are now "wireless only." In addition 16% are mostly mobile, receiving "all or almost all calls on wireless telephones despite also having a landline telephone." This means that a total of half of all US households now rely primarily or exclusively on mobile phones.
The populations, according to the CDC, mostly likely to be mobile only are the following: younger people under 34, adults living alone, those without higher education and less affluent or poor families. Those more likely to be mostly mobile are: affluent adults, parents and adults with college degrees.
Because these data lag about six months we can estimate that the current combined figure is probably closer to 55% of US homes being mobile only or mobile first.
The IAB released its half yearly digital ad revenue report for the US market earlier today. Total "online" revenues were approximately $17 billion, compared with $14.9 billion a year ago. Search was the single largest revenue category and has been for some time. It accounted for 48% of total digital ad revenue in 1H 2012 or $8.1 billion (vs. $6.8 billion in 2011).
Mobile revenue for the first half was $1.2 billion or 7% of total digital ad revenue. That compares to $636 million for the same period in 2011. Ironically the MMA is recommending that brands and marketers devote 7% of their ad budgets to mobile.
As might be expected, the IAB said that mobile was the fastest growing of the various digital ad categories it was tracking.
If we extrapolate from the numbers in the report we can project that full-year US mobile ad revenues will come in between $2.4 and $2.6 billion depending on how good Q4 is this year.
Several data sources over the past week have indicated very high levels of enthusiasm for the iPhone 5 and the iPad "Classic," but not as much interest in the rumored (yet forthcoming) iPad Mini.
Financial services and investment firm Pacific Crest reports that its checks reveal continuing, high levels of demand for the iPhone, which is reportedly hurting Android sales. According to a report in Fortune:
[Pacific Crest's James] Faucette writes that he's seeing several Android-based vendors aggressively discounted previously "high-end" flagship-type products to mid- and low-tier pricing. "While the [Samsung] Galaxy SIII will continue to generate positive news flow as a viable iPhone competitor," he writes, "we continue to believe that as an ecosystem, Android's shipment levels likely peaked in the U.S. as far back as last October and are likely to see further declines in the future if the retention gap doesn't close."
Piper Jaffray found similarly high demand among US teens for the iPhone, as well as high ownership of iOS devices. Based on a survey of more than 7,000 teens the financial frim found 40% owned an iPhone, while 44% owned (or had access to) a tablet. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of those who owned a tablet had an iPad, according to the survey.
These teens were also interested in the iPad Mini, especially if it were to be priced at less than $300. Pricing an iPad Mini creates an interesting challenge for Apple because it's new iPod Touch is priced at $299 and above. Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire tablets are priced at $199; so Apple can't go much beyond $200 in pricing the Mini. However that would potentially cannibalize sales of the new iPod Touch.
In contrast to the Piper Jaffray survey, e-commerce site TechBargains.com conducted a survey of visitors to its site (n=1,332) in September and found only 18% of respondents were interested in an iPad Mini:
Among the 18% who were interested in buying an iPad Mini:
Pricing and features will ultimately determine how popular a smaller iPad tablet turns out to be.
It's no surprise that PC shipments are set to decline this year. While the enterprise market remains modestly healthy the consumer market for PCs is weak. And it's not just the economy; demand is fading.
We're in a "post PC" world now; consumers have many more device options to accomplish tasks that at one time could only be done on the PC. Indeed, MS Office is reportedly coming to iOS and Android devices. Office was the last barrier to totally giving up the PC for many people.
IHS iSuppli has projected a 1.2% shipment (not sales) decline from 2011. But unlike shipments that never translate into consumer sales, there can be no sales without shipments.
The company said that not since 2001 has the PC market contracted like this on a global basis:
The total PC market in 2012 is expected to contract by 1.2 percent to 348.7 million units, down from 352.8 million in 2011, as shown in the figure below. Not since 2001—more than a decade ago—has the worldwide PC industry suffered such a decline.
When you step back and look at the broader device market, you can see how much growth lies ahead for smartphones and tablets (and who knows what other connected devices) in the future. The PC will likely chug along in workmanlike fashion but its days of robust double-digit growth are over.
Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database, Gartner, Morgan Stanley (2011-2012)
Digital marketing agency RKG has released a Q3 report (based on aggregated data from its client base). The report covers search optimization, paid search, social media, email, comparison shopping and mobile. I'll focus here only on the mobile data.
The firm said that tablets (mostly iPads) and smartphones combined to drive 21% of organic search traffic in the third quarter. RKG commented that "this was nearly double the level we saw in Q3 last year." Because of the iPad and iPhone, iOS dominates organic search traffic from non-PC devices. According to the RKG report, "iOS held a 77% share of mobile organic search in Q3, an increase from 75% in Q2."
Operating System Share of Organic Search
RKG also said that "revenue per click" (RPC) was almost the same on the iPad as it was on the PC, while smartphone RPC "languished at roughly a fifth that of desktop." Part of this is because only e-commerce events are being measured and captured. RKG and its clients aren't seeing the indirect impact of smartphones on conversions or purchases that happen later on PCs, tablets or in stores. Accordingly these data are somewhat skewed.
What's interesting to observe in a more "apples to apples" context, however, is the discrepancy between iPad owner-users and Android tablet owners: "the iPad generated an average RPC that was more than double that for Android tablets, including the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7."
Mobile vs. Desktop: RPC by Device
From a paid search marketing standpoint tablets and smartphones cost less and outperform PC (search) advertising. The discrepancy between costs and performance was greatest on smartphones. One reason why this may be so is that many marketers and platforms aren't necessarily valuing mobile correctly because of the conversion-tracking problem. Nonetheless it's a great opportunity for those that aggressively embrace it.
Mobile vs. Desktop: CPC vs. CTR
This week at the Smarter Mobile Marketing event in New York -- I didn't attend because I was at a competing search marketing event -- Millennial Media CEO Paul Palmieri made the case that mobile ad revenues would inevitably grow to keep pace with consumer time spent on mobile devices. Accordingly he projected, based on a Gartner formula, that by 2015 US mobile ad revenues would be approximately $13.5 billion.
Palmieri also pointed out that traditional media grab a much larger percentage of ad spend vs. consumer time spent. However, the underlying assumption is that there's a seemingly inexorable or inevitable logic to the notion that ad spend will catch up with time spent.
In discussing reports that many mobile ad clicks are unintended, Dow Jones newswires cited a very casual projection earlier this year from Mary Meeker -- based on a similar time spent vs. ad spend formula -- that mobile advertising in the US was a $20 billion opportunity. While I don't think Meeker herself assigned a particular time frame for getting to $20 billion Dow Jones stated that would happen by 2015.
Meeker's slide does point out that time spent and ad spend are now almost at parity when it comes to the Internet. However that has taken essentially a decade to come to pass. And even though the mobile market is developing much more quickly than the Internet did, the notion that US mobile advetising (not all spending on mobile marketing) will be $20 billion or even $13.5 billion in three years is just too aggressive.
It's much more likely that US mobile advertising will still be below $10 billion in 2015.
Although consumers have embraced mobile in a big way, there are more than 120 million smartphone users in the US today, marketers are moving much more cautiously and seem to be slow to fully understand the implications of what's happening. There are also "mechanical" and organizational barriers to mobile marketing within agencies and corporations. These behind the scenes "politics" and culture issues are often a bigger obstacle than anything in the broader marketplace (such as fragmentation or the general absence of mobile cookies).
Recently the MMA issued a mobile ROI report that argues 7% of media budgets should be dedicated to mobile -- despite the fact that at least 10% of consumer media time, if not much more, is being spent with mobile. However at the Smarter Mobile Marketing event in New York agencies reportedly said that the 7% figure was too high and suggested that 2% to 3% of budgets was more appropriate.
Reports like the one from Dow Jones mentioned above and others that suggest mobile ad clicks are the product of consumer mistakes or click fraud merely reinforce complacency among marketers who don't want to have to worry about yet another digital platform. They've already got social media, search and display to deal with, without compounding their problems by bringing additional form factors and behaviors into the mix. And while many marketers have done something in mobile often that effort is weak or perfunctory.
The challenges around mobile tracking and attribution, the challenges of the new multi-platform environment and the cultural-organizational issues I alluded to together suggest to me that mobile ad spending and revenue will grow more slowly than the simple time spent vs. ad spend formula argues. The fact that traditional media have maintained a much larger percentage of ad spend vs. consumer time spent is another indication this will take longer than expected. Marketers understand traditional media more than they understand the much more complex digital landscape.
Though consumers will increasingly use smartphones and tablets as primary Internet devices, and while startups and innovation will continue to accelerate the mobile segment, brands and agencies won't necessarily keep pace with consumer behavior and technology development. My guess is that it will probably take at least 5 years to as many as 7 or 8 years to get to the kinds of numbers that Millennial's Palmieri and Mary Meeker are projecting.
In-app messaging provider Urban Airship has just introduced a very interesting new product: Location Messaging. This is the fruit of the company's acquisition of SimpleGeo last year.
Geofencing (Placecast) and ad geotargeting (xAd, YP) have existed for some time. However Urban Airship's new product offers very precise location targeted messaging -- with the ability to mix in other audience segmentation data as well:
As a result publishers/developers are able target specific types of users by location. There's a wide array of possibilities in terms of the way this can be deployed, for loyalty or yield management purposes or to stimulate new sales. There are two qualifications: users must have the publisher's app installed and s/he must have opted in to receive push notifications.
Urban Airship has created 2.5 million "pre-defined geofences" for publishers. However they can also define (or exclude) their own custom geofences. These can be as wide as a metro area (or larger I suppose) or as precise as a park or city block.
There's lots of hand-wringing going on about publishers being unable to sufficiently monetize mobile. However, mobile push notifications offer a terrific opportunity for brands and offline businesses to drive increased sales -- if used judiciously. Accordingly the company shared some performance data with me. It was impressive.
Urban Airship said it beta-tested Location Messaging this summer during the Olympics. The company reported on its blog that "The Official London 2012 app . . . utilized Urban Airship Location Messaging to send more than 10 million location-based push messages to people in . . . Olympic venues." In addition, "Nearly 60% of app users had location-sharing enabled and location-based pushes achieved clickthrough rates of around 60 percent."
Urban Airship CMO Brent Heiggelke pointed out that despite the potential effectiveness of Location Messaging brands and marketers must be extremely careful about the content of messages they send and their frequency or risk having their notifications shut off or apps uninstalled by end users.
I've written about this before: the discrepancy between tablet shipment/sales and traffic figures. On the one hand you have the IDCs and Gartners of the world reporting tablet "shipments," showing iPad rivals gaining. On the other are the companies reporting the actual traffic they're seeing, which indicates the iPad still dominates all other tablets by a huge margin.
IDC's Q2 market share data (based on "shipments") argue the iPad has a 68% global share. That's up slightly from Q1.
However, earlier today, digital publishing platform Onswipe put out some data that show that the iPad's share of traffic generated was about 98%. This finding was based on analysis of almost 30 million impressions on 1200 sites earlier this month.
The iPad's nearest traffic competitor, according to Onswipe, is the Galaxy Tab with 1.53% of tablet traffic.
Ad network Chitika has previously published similar numbers. Earlier this summer Chitika found, based on millions of impressions on its ad network, that the iPad "accounted for 94.64% of all tablet-based traffic." The nearest competitor, again the Samsung Galaxy Tab, had "a lackluster market share of 1.22%."
So while Kindle Fire and other tablet devices (e.g., Samsung Galaxy Tab) have sold millions of units, for some reason these devices are not showing up in the traffic logs of publishers. That could well change in the coming quarter with better Kindle Fire devices and the success of the Nexus 7. But for now there appears to be a strange gap between device sales/shipments and traffic figures being generated by tablets.