Thoughts @

Mobile Advertising Redux

So I’ve spent the last year playing with a variety of different mobile ad networks and I’ve discovered quite a few interesting things which I will share below:

1. There is definitely money here – Whether it be traditional WAP text ads or even SMS ads, there is money that I am making and the eCPMs have been good. With self-service WAP ads, I’ve been getting between $1-$6 and with sponsored ads, I’ve seen ad sales upwards of $15. That being said, there was definitely some initial promises of CPMs in the $30-40 etc range; however, I think this as a % of the inventory has definitely scaled down to less than 5% – the majority of the inventory is under $10.

2. The MMA must be furiously working with all the different kinds of ad units being proposed. I haven’t been able to test all of them but I’ve noticed some general themes. I haven’t seen an improvement in click-thrus with banners over text. In addition, I don’t think the ad-providers have sorted all their bugs yet since I still, on occasion, see incorrect banner sizes being displayed on different phones. I haven’t yet tried interstital ads from Mophap, it’s not a standard mobile ad unit but it’s an interesting concept. I did try click-to-call ads, but that failed pretty miserably, I’m thinking that’s only interesting in the context of local search but I’m not sure what kind of C2C ad would be relevant on a ringtone WAP site? I also haven’t tried any in-voice ads, such as those from VoodooVox but I hear it is doing fairly well although we still have to wait and see if 1800Free411 can be profitable – maybe they already are. I know MyWaves was running mobile video ads – my gut tells me this wouldn’t work because the user experience would be pretty bad. I have found in-game advertising to work with Greystripe but the CPMs being extremely low – you have to be really high-volume to make a killing here.

3. Ad load time is extra important on mobile. Because mobile ads are usually server-sided queries (versus Javascript), your WAP page doesn’t load until you’ve received your ads. My buddy Allen Day with TinyTube wrote an interesting post where he analyzed the response time of a number of different ad networks – see the data for yourself. If it takes a second to request an ad, that means, it’s an extra second on each WAP page load which is a huge user experience issue on a rather slow experience to begin with. Do note, there are some ad providers which display the ad as a URL such as Mophap and thus are not subject to the ad-load time issues.

4. There has been a lot of talk recently about how Google Mobile Adsense will eat everyone’s lunch. One interesting thing to note, initially described by Omar at Admob, is that Google is passing through web advertisements to mobile. Basically, this means if you are a web advertiser, your ad may run on Google Mobile as long as Google can successfully tanscode your page. This is both disruptive but interesting. It’s disruptive to existing ad providers because it immediately gives Google an enormous ad network with high-paying CPMs; it is interesting because it’s taking a long-tail view of mobile where the mobile web browsing experience will converge with the web experience. Knowing this, I’ve still seen very mixed eCPM numbers from Google Mobile Adsense, some weeks, the numbers have been great, but other weeks, my other ad partners are outperforming by a big margin – I’m not sure why the variance. I also haven’t really seen random ads displayed on my WAP site via Google Mobile Adsense either – it still seems to be mobile targeted ads rather than the entire ad network as they initially announced – maybe, they changed their tune. In any case, Russell Beattie pointed out an interesting find, where Google may be giving you prioritized WAP page indexing if you use them for Adsense; that would be extremely clever and arguably anti-compeatitve. Remember the WAP index is pretty small compared to the web, you might be on the first page of results against the search word ringtone!

5. The mobile ad industry is definitely maturing although you could argue it just begun :) I’m seeing folks carve themselves out as sponsored ad providers such as Millennial Media or Quattro, self-service ad networks such as Admob, carrier ad enablers like Enpocket or Rythm New Media, in-game advertisers such as Greystripe or Hovr, SMS ad providers such as 4Info or Movoxx, in-application ad providers such as Amobee etc. etc. – everyone is finding there niche!

I’m looking forward to seeing how this all converges and plays-out over the next year. And let’s also see how Blyk, the ad-supported MVNO turns out!


Posted on November 5th, 2007 in Thoughts
Tagged as , , , ,
Written by Raj Singh

6 Responses to “Mobile Advertising Redux”


  1. kelly says:

    Raj - great post. And welcome to the conversation. google’s announcement today (much anticipated gphone) do you feel the revenue model is finally shifting from pure carrier and operator run — and how will google’s entry into the space affect mobile search and paid advertising? How does mobile advertising compare to regular online advertising? I’ve seen reports that shows mobile versus traditional online advertising — the gap was still so wide most companies opt not to bother with mobile advertising - especially in the States.. (the mobile web is way more prominent outside of the U.S.

  2. Sean Owen says:

    “Google may be giving you prioritized WAP page indexing if you use them for Adsense”

    From the people who run this machinery — I can at least tell you that we do nothing of the sort.

  3. seong says:

    We’ve found a lot of the same results on our mobile site, including CPMs clearly under $10 but definitely higher than online. AdMob has been performing better for us than Google so far. We’re also considering trying out Medio to see how their stuff compares…interested if anybody else has tried out an ad service not mentioned in the post.

  4. Sylvia Hatshaw says:

    Colby Fede of ProximityMedia has a wonderful article on the state of mobile advertising in 2008.

  5. Monica says:

    Google has had the mobile world on its radar screen ever since 2004. I remember reading a book mobile advertising in which were mentioned some trial runs done by Google in 2005.

    Google btw, is a good entity to have on the mobile ad space - in fact in both mobile and online space. They are the kings on user usability benchmarks. What makes things a bit eeky (shudder shudder) is the ‘all prevading’ presence of Google. My thoughts on this - no one no matter how good, should be allowed the luxury of an ‘all prevading’. This is a prerogative that belongs to God and Him alone!!


  6. Johnson says:

    ZestADZ is a leading mobile-ad network in India and serves mobile ad’s on SMS and WAP.

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