Data And Forecasts

The End of the Spam Line: 45.4% in US Are Mobile Only or Mostly Mobile

I was recently speaking with a friend who said that he and his wife had eliminated their landline. I was surprised because this friend is successful and it's not a financial issue. Cost is often cited among younger people who've jettisoned their landlines.

"We were tired of getting all these telemarketing calls," he told me. In other words, his landline had become a "spam line." 

That's also the case for me and probably most of the people reading this. Our mobile numbers are for the people we need and want to talk to, landlines are for spam and others we don't really care about. Most of the calls we receive at home are telemarketers or fundraising calls in one form or another.  

I looked up the latest CDC statistics (.pdf) on mobile only households and found that just under 30% (29.7%) of American households are mobile only and have no landline. According to the data, "nearly one of every six American homes (15.7%) received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones." Accordingly 45.4% of US homes are mostly mobile or mobile exclusively. 

This is staggering in a way. Just under half of American households are without a landline or simply ignore their landlines. For that 16% who basically ignore their landlines it's only a matter of time before they cancel. This was my friend's situation; he had considered canceling his landline for a couple of years before he actually did it.

It's worth pointing out these data are from 2010. These numbers are likely to be higher now. They're positively correlated, I would imagine, with smartphone adoption as well. 

There are all sorts of implications of these figures, for telemarketing (no robodialing allowed) and political polling (no longer representative if landline centric) -- to name just two areas. 

There are some countervailing forces that may slow the abandonment of landlines. Among them the carrier move toward tiered data plans; calls will be part of data relatively soon. People using only their mobile phones to talk could be subject to overages accordingly. In addition, businesses will retain landlines in many cases. Some bundling of landlines with other serivces (e.g., cable "triple play") will also retain landlines for some. However they will be increasingly ignored. 

Regardless, the next tranche of CDC data will likely show that mostly mobile and mobile only homes have crossed the 50% threshold in the US.  

Mobile CPMs Just a Fraction of PC Display Costs

Former Wall Street analyst Mary Meeker just did one of her famous data dumps at the D10 conference. The 100+ slide deck is a discussion of "Internet trends." However I just want to focus on three slides.

The first shows that mobile Internet traffic in India just this month has surpassed PC Internet traffic. This is a trend that will replicate itself in markets all over the globe as time goes on. It will take longer for this to happen in developed countries than developing markets but it will happen. 

Marketers are going to be shocked by this as in market after market the PC Internet will become subordinate to mobile.  

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The second slide shows that CPM rates in mobile are much less than on the PC. This is bad news for everyone except advertisers as more users migrate to mobile devices for much of their Internet usage. 

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However compare our recent ad network test, which showed that the local networks (xAd, LSN) were able to command a much higher CPM. 

This shows us that premium or highly targeted mobile inventory will be able to deliver PC-like, or potentially higher, CPMs. 

The final Meeker slide I wanted to discuss is one of those familiar monetization vs. time spent slides. Flurry Analytics has a good one as well. Meeker points out a potentially $20 billion digital advertising opportunity over time, as PC usage migrates and ad spending catches up to consumer usage. 

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The "X variable" is time, however. The logic is sound but the timeframe is less certain.

It took many years for the PC Internet to start to equalize time spent and digital ad spend. Mobile is evolving faster than the PC Internet but it may well be several years before mobile advertising begins to approach user engagement/time spent levels. 

Clearly what's going on right now is that advertisers are not valuing mobile impressions as much as PC impressions. In fact mobile impressions are much more valuable than PC impressions -- for both awareness and direct response.

As mobile becomes the primary Internet access vehicle for many more people marketers will be compelled to wake up, and competition should intensify for mobile ad impressions, especially well targeted impressions. In the interim it's a buying opportunity for smart marketers who right now can get high quality eye balls at a fraction of the cost of the PC Internet. 

Nielsen: Average Number of Apps per Smartphone Now 41

Last week Nielsen released data comparing US smartphone users' app adoption and usage vs. last year. Nielsen says that the average US smartphone owner in 2012 has 41 apps on his/her phone vs. 32 apps in 2011:

In just a year, the average number of apps per smartphone has jumped 28 percent, from 32 apps to 41. Not only is the 2012 smartphone owner downloading more apps, they are increasingly spending more time using them vs. using the mobile web — about 10 percent more than last year.

Nielsen also says that smartphone owners spend roughly 39 minutes a day using apps (vs. 37 last year). However this finding is much lower than Flurry's earlier declaration that smartphone owners spent 94 minutes per day in apps. It's not clear why these numbers should be so far apart. It may be that Flurry's data are behavioral (analytics based) and Nielsen's figures are based on self-reported survey data -- in which case the former would be more accurate. However, this is speculation. 

Flurry_App_versus_WebUsage_Dec2011

Earlier this month comScore released data that asserted "4 in every 5 mobile media minutes" are spent in apps vs. the mobile browser. 

According to Nielsen the top five mobile apps across smartphone platforms are Facebook, YouTube, Android Market, Google Search and Gmail. Finally, the measurement firm added that its surveys show users continue to be concerned about mobile privacy and location sharing: 

[P]rivacy continues to be a concern with the vast majority (70% in 2011 and 73% in 2012) expressing concern over personal data collection and 55 percent wary of sharing information about their location via smartphone apps.

Millennial: iOS Gains Share, Feature Phones Decline in Device Mix Report

Millennial Media puts out regular data about activity on its large ad network. However that data typically lacks historical context. It's a snapshot or a moment in time. It's more interesting to examine movement and trends over time. 

This morning the Q1 Mobile Mix report came out. I've gone back to the equivalent report a year ago to compare metrics. In one instance the current report does compare smartphone and tablet penetration vs. a year ago. The most striking thing is that feature phone share on Millennial's network has declined from 23% to 7% since last year. By Q3 or Q4 it's likely to be below 5%. 

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In terms of operating system share, iOS and Windows have gained share relative to their positions a year ago. Apple's operating system is bolstered by the iPad. In Q1 2011 the top two tablets were the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. In Q1 2012 the top three tablets are the iPad, Galaxy Tab and Kindle Fire. Unfortunately, however, the report doesn't indicate volume of impressions by tablet. 

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Top app categories haven't changed that much in a year. Weather has fallen somewhat and Travel has appeared in the top 10.

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Finally (though it may be hard to read) the list of Millennial's top 20 devices is pretty similar to last year. The iPhone is the top device and the rest are mostly Android devices. However, very surprisingly, several more RIM devices appear in the 2012 list vs. the one from last year. Given the continued delcine in RIM's sales there's no clear explanation for why RIM has gained positions.

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Despite growing to 3% of Millennial's network overall impression share, no Windows Phones appear on the 2012 list. 

NPD: Apple Maintains Top "PC" Position on Strength of iPad

According to NPD, Apple remains the top "PC" manufacturer globally, largely because of the iPad. According to the NPD shipments (not sales) data, Apple had a 22.5% share of the PC market. Overall NPD said "PC" shipments (including tablets) grew 30% year over year.

However Dell reported earnings this week and missed analysts' estimates because of slumping PC sales. Dell was hurt by smartphone and iPad sales, which have taken the place of PC replacements for many consumers. 

Among tablet makers, NPD said that Apple had a 62.8% share. However these estimates -- based on shipments, not sales -- are undermined by various analytics firms that report well over 90% of tablet-generated traffic is coming from the iPad. 

Below are the NPD charts showing PC and tablet shipments. 

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Source: NPD Group 

While tablets increasingly can function as PCs it's a mistake to include them in the conventional PC counts. It's part of a different category of devices. By including tablets into PC forecasts and estimates it obscures the true state of the PC market. 

Marchex: Directories Deliver Highest % of New Customers, Mobile Display Lowest

Last year survey data were released that asserted "47% of mobile app users . . . click/tap on mobile ads more often by mistake than they do on purpose." In the subsequent write-ups that often turned into the broader claim that "half of all mobile ad clicks are unintended." 

With all the touchscreen smartphones out there a high level of accidental clicks isn't hard to imagine.

Now comes a kind of parallel but stronger finding from Marchex that argues 76% of all calls coming from mobile display ads are bad calls: pocket dials or otherwise accidental. The data aren't based on survey information but an analysis of more than 200,000 calls on the company's network. These calls were part of advertising campaigns to company runs for clients. 

Marchex also analyzed the percentage of new and existing customer calls by channel. Below is a chart the company generated to illustrate these findings: 

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Online and mobile directory sites generated the highest percentage of new leads/customers. Marchex added that directory sites work best for advertisers with physical stores or business locations (perhaps an obvious point). Mobile display, according to the report, generated the lowest percentage of new customers and had the highest percentage of non-qualified calls, as previously indicated.

Search engines had the lowest percentage of spam but the highest percentage of existing customer calls. This suggests people repeatedly use mobile search to find phone numbers for businesses they already know.

Marchex's report also best practices advice for (national-local) marketers. One of the recommendations is that marketers look more deeply at whether calls have generated desired outcomes (e.g. sales) to determine their true ROI, and not simply rely on the top-level data: 

  1. Give consumers a variety of connection options to suit their intent, such as app downloads, QR codes, form fills and click to call
  2. Test different consumer flows for mobile calls, such as the ability to call from an ad or call from a landing page
  3. Take advantage of the fragmented media landscape with placements across a range of mobile webpages, search engines and applications
  4. Test and analyze the performance of ad campaigns across different calls to action, formats and media
  5. If possible, analyze the types of calls you are getting from ad campaigns and connect with the call center to determine whether those calls convert to sales.

Monica Ho of xAd confirmed that when call buttons are in top-level display ad creative the number of accidental calls is high. However she said that calls coming from mobile landing pages are "98-99% valid and of very high quality."

Study: Localization Best Way to Make Mobile Ads Relevant to Users

The IAB has released a fascinating report on mobile shopping and user attitudes. The study wasn't a simply survey. Instead the research involved 260 US adults who agreed to participate in a two-week "mobile diary" project. It thus got an in-depth look at their behavior. Below are some of the findings that I found most interesting and noteworthy.

One finding that illustrates simple assumptions about mobile behavior cannot be made was the fact that most "mobile commerce" activity happened at home:

  • At home: 47%
  • Out and about: 29%
  • At work: 10%

Specifically the study also found that most product searching happened at home and not "out and about." Store location searching did happen mostly on the go. But these findings suggest that behavior many marketers assume is happening on the go is actually taking place at home. 

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In a majority of cases "mobile commerce" (shopping) activity was stimulated by the presence of other media. This fact is relatively well known but still needs to be pointed out. Too many marketers think about mobile in a vacuum. Specifically 46% of these users were watching TV or on their computers when they used their smartphones to look up information. 

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What stimulated their mobile commerce (shopping) activity? The largest group said that mobile was the "easiest way" to accomplish the particular task. In other words, it was easier for them to do a mobile lookup than it was to go on a PC. Beyond this, mobile advertising was a major "stimulant" of subsequent research or mobile shopping behavior.
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One of the most interesting findings, which is an outlier compared to other data in the market, is the overwhelmingly favorable perception of mobile ads, which were viewed by 70% of these study participants as "a personal invitation." That's an incredibly positive finding for mobile advertising. 

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Another very interesting finding is that mobile users who click on ads are mostly not immediately interested in buying. They want to learn more about a product or service. Many also want to see related products or services (presumably to see what their options are). 

All this suggests that mobile (display) advertising exists somewhere between pure awareness and direct response. Most people -- at least in this sample -- are not prepared to buy immediately in response to mobile display ads. Search is a different matter because of the directed nature of the consumer behavior vs. display. 

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Finally the study indicates that the best way to make mobile ads relevant to users is to localize and personalize them. Personalization is OK, according to the study, with permission (hard to execute for marketers). But localization can more easily be done without capturing personal or behavioral data. 

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Samsung Near Bottom of Satisfaction Index for Handset Makers

The University of Michigan's American Consumer Satisfaction Index for May is out. I've pulled two categories: wireless carriers and mobile handsets. The chart immediately below reflects that of the four major US mobile carriers Sprint beats Verizon by a single satisfaction point. They're all clustered very closely together however. 

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The next chart is more interesting. It shows consumer satisfaction with smartphone brands. 

Apple comes out on top (83), followed by Nokia, LG and HTC (75). HTC and Motorola are two points behind them. Interestingly, Samsung -- which is now the largest handset maker in the world -- is 12 points behind Apple (71). The only company to score more poorly than Samsung is RIM.

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People at the ACSI say that these numbers are predictive of future consumer behavior. A low score implies declining future sales. By the same token a high score should predict positive sales activity. 

Certainly Apple is doing well and RIM is in decline. But Samsung is an anomaly. It continues to see massive sales and would thus appear to defy the predictive wisdom of the ACSI scores. 

Survey: 75% Using Smartphones for LBS Information

On Friday the Pew Internet Project released survey data that showed significant usage of "real-time location-based information" by smartphone owners in the US. Earlier consumer surveys have shown that 90% or more of smartphone owners have used their devices to get "local" or location-based information (at one point or another). 

When you consider that Google Maps is either the top app or one of the top two apps on the iPhone and Android the Pew finding is obvious and not a surprise. Indeed, Pew never clearly defines the cluster of sites, apps or services that constitute the location-based information category. That may be because the question is asked in that way, without further definition, to consumers. 

Location based info and geosocial services_smartphone owners

An additional finding from the survey is that 18% of smartphone owners are using "check-in" services like Foursquare:

Smartphone owner geosocial and location based information use

In November 2010 Pew said that only 4% of survey respondents were using "geosocial" or "check-in" services. 

We should see "location-based services" hit 100% usage or penetration among smartphone owners, depending on how the category is defined. That's because every smartphone owner is going to eventually use a map or check the weather or look up a restaurant. 

Are Facebook Users Fleeing to Mobile to Escape Ads?

Facebook has again updated its S-1. There are a few reasons for this, including the awarding of additional stock to employees. However there's a very interesting discussion of mobile in the revised document (pointed out by TechCrunch). On page 14 of the document Facebook reiterates uncertainty around its ability to make money off mobile users:

We had 488 million MAUs who used Facebook mobile products in March 2012. While most of our mobile users also access Facebook through personal computers, we anticipate that the rate of growth in mobile usage will exceed the growth in usage through personal computers for the foreseeable future, in part due to our focus on developing mobile products to encourage mobile usage of Facebook.

We have historically not shown ads to users accessing Facebook through mobile apps or our mobile website. In March 2012, we began to include sponsored stories in users’ mobile News Feeds. However, we do not currently directly generate any meaningful revenue from the use of Facebook mobile products, and our ability to do so successfully is unproven. We believe this increased usage of Facebook on mobile devices has contributed to the recent trend of our daily active users (DAUs) increasing more rapidly than the increase in the number of ads delivered. If users increasingly access Facebook mobile products as a substitute for access through personal computers, and if we are unable to successfully implement monetization strategies for our mobile users, or if we incur excessive expenses in this effort, our financial performance and ability to grow revenue would be negatively affected.

(emphasis added.)

The only mobile ad unit currently used by Facebook is Sponsored Stores, which put brand and advertiser messages in the user news feed. These units have proven to be successful on the PC but could become annoying to users on mobile devices. I have not yet seen any of these ads myself. 

One reason why mobile usage is growing so rapidly for Facebook is a result of general smartphone adoption among Americans. There are also things about the user experience in mobile that are superior to the PC: the ability to take and immediately upload pictures, for example. 

There may be another reason why usage is migrating to mobile: ad avoidance. People may be choosing the mobile version of Facebook over the PC site precisely because there are fewer ads; it's a "cleaner" experience. If my theory is correct then Facebook has a major problem on its hands. As Facebook puts more ads in mobile to make money it risks alienating users if the company is not very careful and thoughtful. 

Mobile ads on Facebook will have to add value, be compelling (offers) or highly relevant (local) in order to work. For this reason I expect Facebook to make a major mobile ad-network acquisition. This would be for the "infrastructure," the expertise and the inventory. It would be analogous to what Google did with AdMob.

Insurance, Banking Dominate Mobile Advertising in Financial Vertical

Millennial Media released an extensive report this morning, supported by research from comScore, on the mobile finance vertical. It contains in-depth audience profile and behavior information. It's also partly devoted to discussion of financial sector advertisers, their mobile campaigns and tactics.

The company found that finance-related mobile ads grew 34% from Q3 2010 to Q3 2011. Millennial reported that insurance was the leading sub-category, with 42% of display ads on its network. Those ads were mostly lead-gen or directed people to call centers (to close). 

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Banking was next, with an emphasis on branding/awareness. Interestingly Millennial said that "This was also the only Finance sub-category to focus on driving foot traffic into brick and mortar locations, such as ATMs/cash points and bank branches."

Financial services/credit cards followed those categories. These were national campaigns largely focused on a mix of awareness and direct response:

Spend in the Financial Services category varied throughout the year, as brands increased their mobile ad spend ahead of key seasonal events like the April US tax deadline. Credit Card brands heavily focused on campaigns designed to easily allow consumers to apply for new cards.

Apps Crush Mobile Web in Time Spent -- comScore

There has been an ongoing debate about whether the mobile web would ultimately prevail over apps, with web partisans in disbelief about the persistence and growth of apps. Flurry Analytics famously reported last year that apps were consuming more time than the PC. Now comScore confirms what Flurry has been saying: mobile users spend far more time with apps than the mobile browser.

The reason is simple: it's a better user experience. Publishers don't like being captive to app stores but consumers have clearly expressed their preference for apps. According to comScore: 

Analysis of the share of time spent across apps and browsers revealed that even though these access methods had similar audience sizes, apps drove the lion’s share of engagement, representing 4 in every 5 mobile media minutes. Analysis of the top properties also revealed widely varying degrees of time spent between app and browser access methods. On Facebook, the top ranked mobile media property by engagement, 80 percent of time spent was represented by app usage compared to 20 percent via browser.

Among all measured sites/apps, according to comScore, Facebook saw the greatest engagement among US users, with people spending 7 hours with Facebook's mobile site or apps in March. The chart measures average mobile minutes spent on popular social sites/apps. 

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Source: comScore, March 2012

iPad: How Do We Reconcile Tablet Projections with Actual Traffic Data?

IDC and Gartner both released revised tablet projections in the past month. According to Gartner Apple will control 61.4% of the tablet market in 2012. IDC says Apple had a 68% share of the global tablet market in Q1 2012. Gartner is counting projected sales, while IDC is measuring shipments.

Shipments have been definitively shown to be an inaccurate metric in the past. Shipments do not equal sales. 

Yet late last week ad network Chitika found, based on millions of impressions on its US-based network, "that the iPad accounted for 94.64% of all tablet based traffic." By contrast Chitika said that the nearest competitor, the Samsung Galaxy tablet, "boasts a lack luster market share of 1.22%."  

The ad network found that for every 100 iPads there were just over 1 Samsung Galaxy Tabs, as measured by traffic generated. For every 100 iPads there were 0.8% Kindle Fires. As an aside Kindle Fire sales have dramatically slowed this past quarter. 

While Chitika's network is not synonymous with the entire Internet it's going to be generally representative of traffic trends. In Q3 2011 comScore reported that "iPads delivered 97.2 percent of all tablet traffic in the US." 

There's something really out of alignment between what IDC, Gartner, NPD and several others are reporting in terms of tablet market share and what's actually happening "on the ground" in terms of usage.  

Nielsen: Windows Phone Has a 1.7% Share in US

Nielsen has released some smarpthone market share figures for March. The metrics firm says that 50.5% of US mobile phone owners now carry smartphones. The data show the following breakdown by operating system:

  • Android OS -- 48.5%
  • iOS -- 32.0%
  • Blackberry -- 11.6%
  • Windows Mobile -- 4.1%
  • Windows Phone -- 1.7%
  • Other -- 2.1%

Here's comScore's March data for comparison purposes:

  • Google -- 51.0%
  • Apple -- 30.7%
  • RIM -- 12.3%
  • Microsoft -- 3.9%
  • Symbian -- 1.4%

Comscore puts smartphone penetration at 45.2% in the US by comparison. 

There's a meaningful difference in the numbers in terms of Android and iOS market share percentages in both data sets. In addition Nielsen shows 5.8% penetration of Windows, while comScore shows 3.9%. That's also a fairly significant difference. 

They both agree however that the Windows Phone platform so far hasn't moved the needle and Microsoft's overall share of the smartphone market is declining. 

Mobile Search Clicks Higher, Prices Generally Lower than Online Ads

During the past two or three weeks a trio of reports came out about paid search trends, with considerable information about mobile. Agencies Marin Software, IgnitionOne and Performics each put out "Q1" reports. What they uniformly show is that mobile keeps gaining and that CTRs are better than for comparable ads online.

Performics says it's not seeing any cannibalization by mobile of PC search, which it says is still growing. The agency says people are simply searching more: PC at their desks, smartphones on the go and iPads at night on the couch. And none of this reflects or counts in-app search as an alternative to the mobile browser. 

First from Marin (top) and IgnitionOne (second) the following two graphics offer a comparison of paid search clicks on the PC, tablets and smartphones. Marin and IgnitionOne are very consistent with each other (based on aggregated client data):

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Given that there are scores of clients and hundreds of campaigns reflected in the two charts above we can take these metrics as definitive (for now) regarding the relative CTRs on each of these device platforms.

Performics argues that the present is a buying opportunity in mobile search (and display) because prices are lower than for PC campaigns, even as performance is superior to the PC. The graphic below shows the relative cost of paid search clicks for smartphones and tablets indexed against comparable PC campaign costs. 

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Carrier Desire for More Data Fees in Conflict with Consumer Price Sensitivity

In the regular torrent of data and reports streaming across my desk there were a number of interesting findings recently that indirectly addressed the issue of mobile consumer price sensitivity. The first came from Google's recent consumer study with Compete about how mobile phone buyers shop for handsets and what influences those purchase decisions. 

Google found that after carrier network quality/reliability the primary consumer considerations were the cost of data and voice plans and the price of handsets.

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Source: Google-Compete (Q3 2011)

Then came Chetan Sharma's latest Global Mobile Market Update, which is trove of charts about a range of mobile issues: smartphone adoption, carrier revenues and mobile IP among others. He underscores the now familar point that carrier voice revenues are flat to declining while data is driving growth. Partly as a consequence, most carriers have moved away or are trying to retreat from unlimited data plans.

Sharma asserts that mobile phone plan fees now represent "50% of the [consumer] household IT budget." That was quite striking to me. Also in the "household IT" category are landlines, cable TV and Internet access. Carriers want to drive up fees; consumers want to hold them down. 

Another interesting, related piece of data from Sharma's slides is one that shows how most consumers that have bought iPads or other tablets have opted for WiFi only devices (63%) -- undoubtedly a cost saving move. Even a majority of those who've bought carrier-enabled devices have not activated those carrier plans. In other words, according to the data, only 12% of tablets are running on carrier networks. 

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Source: Chetan Sharma April 2012

This choice is absolutely about minimizing fees that consumers are paying for Internet access. They're paying for access at home, they're paying for access on their smartphones -- and many families have multiple people on data plans. It thus makes sense that they'd say "no" to a third Internet access tariff for tablets. 

Verizon in the US is rumored to be readying a multiple device family data plan. We'll have to see how much data it allows and how much it costs. In theory it's a compelling solution. 

However the carrier imperative to extract more data charges and fees from consumers as other revenues decline will bump up against consumer price sensitivity and resistance to price increases. Market competition will also limit the carriers' ability to raise prices in the future. 

Survey: 45% of Those Who Saw Ads in Apps Clicked

Mobile advertising platform Tapjoy released survey data about mobile user attitudes and behaviors surrounding engagement with in-app advertising. The online survey had 2,000 US adult respondents who owned smartphones and/or tablets and used apps. The major finding was that users respond best to ads in apps that offer rewards of some kind. 

Respondents were grouped in age and psychographic categories and profiled accordingly. The survey discovered that adults in the 25-34 age group "are more likely to value the influence of advertisements, they generally recall seeing more ads while using mobile apps." In addition during each app session people in this group recalled a larger number of ads vs. the total population.

These individuals had more paid apps on their devices than other age groups. In addition, once they saw an ad "50% choose to click on it, compared to only 45% of typical app users." These numbers are huge: half of those who noticed an ad clicked on it.

Here are some of the other top-level findings: 

  • App users are more likely to remember brands that offer unique rewards
  • 58% of users tried an app after downloading it to earn a reward
  • Respondents estimate that half of the apps they use are ad-­supported; 64% of users reported having seen an advertisement within a mobile app.
  • 45% of these consumers reported clicking on one of the ads
  • 42% of users download an app because their friends and family suggested they do so
  • 24% of users will tell friends and family about [an app they like] and convince them to get it

Stepping back, none of this comes as a surprise. (There's also lots of discussion of virtual currency in the survey.) Mobile users tend to respond to ads more than PC users and in-app users perhaps more significantly than users of the mobile web. It also makes sense that ads containing some sort of incentive, deal/discount or call to action would see higher response than in the absence of those things.

We've written previously about how many -- indeed a majority -- of mobile ads suffer from bland or perfunctory ad creative and copy and are merely shrunk-down versions of PC campaigns rather than created specifically for mobile audiences. When mobile ads are well conceived they can be enormously effective. 

Report: Mobile Email Opens to Pass PC by Q4

Most marketers' email campaigns are not optimized for mobile. I observe this all the time in my own experience: the majority of emails I open on my smartphone (iPhone) land on an HTML page that assumes I'm on a PC. Yet PC email opens will be the minority use case very soon according to data released by email analytics provider Return Path.

The company examined 500 client email campaigns in Q4, 2011 through Q1, 2012 and found that 30% of email opens were on mobile devices. Further, it said that mobile was on track to become "the dominant email marketing platform later this year." This makes sense because email is one of the primary activities that people do in mobile. Return Path asserts that 42% of all time spent with mobile is spent on email. 

The company doesn't indicate whether iPads are counted as mobile devices here. In that case PC-formatted emails will look OK. 

Regardless, the Return Path data and prediction will come as a shock to most email marketers who are well behind in terms of mobile adoption. Citing third party data Return Path said that of all email opens only 2.4% of people opened the same email on their mobile device and a PC. In other words, marketers get one shot at users and that's going to be mostly mobile as of later this year.

Citing another third party study Return Path reports that 63% of Americans and 41% of Europeans either close or delete emails not optimized for mobile. This shows how high the stakes are for marketers who rely on email -- especially retailers.

Perhaps the second most suprising datapoint from the study, Return Path found that "Apple devices account for 85% of all mobile email opens." What this effectively means is that at some point in Q4 a majority of email opens will happen on iPhones and iPads. 

UC Berkeley Report on Mobile Payments Discovers Highly Negative Consumer Attitudes

A recently published study from the UC Berkeley Law School about mobile payments and related issues finds some significant consumer resistance -- at least in the abstract. A survey discussed in the report found that "over three-quarters (74%) of Americans said that they are 'not at all likely' or 'not too likely' to adopt mobile payment systems. Just 24% say that they are likely to adopt mobile payments."

Enthusiasm or resistance to mobile payments varied by age. Interestingly the people most enthusiastic about the technology were those in the 35-44 age range -- not the youngest adults. Yet attitudes and behavior are often distinct and surveys don't always reflect what people actually do in concrete situations in the world. Still the data potentially reflect a stiff uphill climb for mobile payments purveyors. 

Services like Square and PayPal Here may be exceptions because they don't require a change in consumer behavior. The consumer is still swiping a card; it's the merchant experience which is changed. 

A 2012 consumer survey conducted by the US Federal Reserve found that 12% of respondents had made a “mobile payment” within the past year. However “payment” was broadly defined to include online bill paying, m-commerce, charitable giving and money transfers, among other transactions. Online bill paying was by far the most common “mobile payment” activity according to the survey.

(Source: US Federal Reserve Q1 2012, n=1,780 US adults)

Concerns over security and the lack of apparent/clear benefits were the top two obstacles to mobile payments adoption according to the Federal Reserve survey.

The UC Berkeley survey looked at related areas surrounding mobile payments adoption. It explored location tracking and other privacy related issues (i.e., giving merchants information as part of the mobile transaction). Among other things, the survey asked consumers about how much information they were willing to give to merchants and how comfortable they were allowing their movements in or around shopping areas to be tracked by retailers or other entities. 

The report says that, "Americans overwhelmingly oppose the revelation of contact information (phone number, email address, and home address) to merchants when making purchases with mobile payment systems. Furthermore, an even higher level of opposition exists to systems that track consumers’ movements through their mobile phones." An overwhelming 96% of survey respondents say they objected to having their movements tracked by merchants or retailers; and 79% said they would “definitely not allow” it, with the remaining 17% saying they would “probably not allow” it.

Again this may be an abstract fear that dissipates if consumers realize concrete benefits from permitting themselves to be tracked or by divulging information. Regardless, mobile payments vendors and merchants will need to overcome the catalog of user fears and offer very concrete benefits to drive adoption. There are a large number of people who not only don't see mobile payments inevitable, useful or convenient but see it as a net negative.

That perception will need to be overcome to mainstream the phenomenon. And that will probably happen by getting a sufficient early adopter critical mass of people who can then proselytize and educate their friends, family and colleagues. 

Kindle Fire Controls More than 50% of Android Tablet Market

Today comScore confirmed what we already knew: Kindle Fire is the dominant tablet in the non-iPad universe. Comscore reported that the Kindle Fire had 54% of the US Android tablet market and was far ahead of all other Android tablet OEMs including Samsung.

Here's the market-share breakdown in the US Android tablet market according to comScore: 

Screen shot 2012-04-26 at 3.17.51 PM

Kindle Fire is a weak competitor to the iPad in terms of overall user experience. However its $199 price has made it extraordinarily successful. Accordingly it set the bar for Android pricing in the 7 inch category, if not the rest of the Android tablet market. 

Google will reportedly match or beat that pricing when its own branded tablet goes on sale later this year.