Flurry, a mobile advertising and analytics firm, just came out with a report exploring the disparities between the amount of time being spent on ad platforms and the amount of money spent on them. They noted that the largest disparity between the two was in Mobile – where 23% of users’ time was spent there with only 1% of U.S. ad dollars. Comparing that to Print media, where 29% of ad dollars meet only 6% of time is spent, then it would seem that things are off-kilter. While there could stand to be some shifting upward in Mobile spend percentages, looking to align the percentages of time spent with dollars spent on numbers alone in your media planning could leave you dangling in the wind.
Flurry’s VP of Marketing, Peter Farago stated in the company’s blog post that they “believe the main reason for this disparity (in Mobile) is that the mobile app platform has emerged so rapidly over such a short period of time. …Madison Avenue and brands have yet to adjust to an unprecedented adoption of apps by consumers.” That may be part of the issue, but it misses a number of other key factors:
- The way in which people interact with the different media platforms is as much a piece of the puzzle as the time they spend using them. We all know that viewers expect a certain form of advertising when they are engaging with TV, Print and even Radio. When looking at the Web, it seems that there is still not yet full stability in advertising engagements and Mobile is considered to most media planners to still be the Wild West.
- With the above, some media platforms have standards that are easy to understand and convey to both upper management and clients.
- While TV has gone through some changes with the advent of DVRs and the ability to skip ads, there is still structure there and the historical arguments come into play. In the case of Radio and Print, the numbers are dwindling, but advertisers still have a clear idea of the context in which they will be viewed. And most importantly, they know that there will be a decent opportunity for the ads to be seen or heard by those who are consuming those types of media. in all three of these, there is a higher percentage of ad spend than time spent.
- Ad spend on Web is closer to alignment of time spent (22%) to ad spend (16%) and that is likely due to time in the marketplace as well as normalization of not only contextual placements but reporting. That will continue to evolve and shift (e.g. current trend from standard ads to video) and we will most likely see the spend percentages rise above the time percentages in the next year or two.
- Ultimately, the costs for these media placements are not normalized and cannot be compared as apples to apples. Therefore, the numbers may be “illogically” skewed for some time to come.
Taking the above into consideration, there is still a major consideration for Mobile. When you figure that most use of mobile is done on Apps and mobile websites that do not offer Mobile-specific advertising options, there would definitely be a disparity in the numbers. Additionally, as mobile advertising is still relatively new, the media program costs are often heavily discounted to either get in the advertiser’s door or provide proof of concept. With those offerings, there needs to be strong analytical follow-up to derive stronger (and more costly) programs. As of now, we’re still too early to be able to do that – even if there was enough real advertising inventory to relate directly to the time spent meter.
The report did point to other interesting facts that could lead to a strong future in mobile media with the strongest one being that Upper Middle Class consumers aged 25 – 34 are the most likely to interact with mobile ads.
There is definitely a future in mobile advertising and the chasm between time spent and ad dollars spent will surely come more closely aligned. The smart bet is on more than just the numbers, but the context. The strongest contextual applications will play out in the coming years and the best option is to be ready to pounce when it arrives to generate the best return on any Mobile media spend investment.