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.
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!