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Apple?s triple play in mobile advertising: Devices, impressions and monetization

Apple dominated the mobile advertising sector in 2012 with the most successful new device ? the iPhone 5 ? as well as the largest share of ad impressions and the biggest moneymaker ? the iPad, according to a new report from Opera Software.

In a look back at the year 2012 in mobile advertising, Opera Software also found that sports is the fastest growing category for generating mobile advertising revenue while music, video and media publishers generated the greatest number of mobile ad impressions. Despite the significant gains made by Android devices in 2012, the report also points to Apple's continued might in mobile advertising.

? Apple enables the largest mobile advertising market today via iOS,? said Mahi de Silva, executive vice president of consumer mobile at Opera Software, San Mateo, CA. ?It's the most coveted display inventory in the world and it will continue to be so, because of the audience it represents and the engagement numbers advertisers see on the iOS platform.

?With iPad, the display inventory enables the best opportunity for advertisers to engage consumers via rich media - expandables, interstitials, video, augmented-reality, interactive - and it's the easiest platform for developing and deploying creating,? he said. ?So it's no surprise that advertisers are paying north of $100 CPM for premium publisher inventory.

?There's no real equivalent Android device in terms of unit volume, ad impressions or ad eCPM. And though Android has larger device market share in the US compared to iOS, iOS represent the lion share of mobile advertising spend.?

iPhone 5 a success
The report found that while Samsung made a splash with it launched the Samsung Galaxy SIII in the spring, with sales of more than 10 million units projected by the end of year, the iPhone 5 - which launched four months later - now accounts for 16.1 percent of all iPhone device traffic, making it the most successful new device launch of the year. In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy accounts for just 8 percent of all Android traffic.

Apple also prevails when it comes to mobile ad impressions, with 44.4 percent of all impressions being served on an iOS-based device compared to 29 percent on Android devices.

The report also shows that adoption of iOS6 continues to grow, with Apple's newest operating system now accounting for 65 percent of all iOS ad requests.

Completing Apple's dominance of mobile advertising is the iPad, which consistently delivers an effective cost per thousand impressions of over $3.60, making it the clear winner in mobile advertising monetization.

In-app advertising
The report also points to notable successes by several publishers in mobile advertising, including IMDb, which enjoys widespread penetration on iOS and Android and saw breakthrough consumer uptake on Amazon Kindle this year.

Other publishing success stories include Pandora, which is achieving high levels of consumer engagement and monetization via its rich-media ads; Univision, which caters to the Latino community, and Demand Media, which delivers well-received lifestyle apps.

The publishing category generating the greatest number of mobile ad impressions - 23.8 percent of the total - was music, video and media. Each accounted for 15 percent revenue as did the entertainment category. These numbers are driven by shifting consumer consumption of music and video from mobile.

?Marquee apps around music, video and media will continue to grow in terms of users and ad impressions,? Mr. de Silva said. ?More and more, major brands - and the agencies that serve them - are looking to leverage these apps; we are already seeing record-breaking brand advertising in Q4 2012.?

The fastest growing category in terms mobile advertising revenue was sports, which started out the year accounting for less than 4 percent of revenue and now accounts for nearly 14 percent of monthly revenue on the Opera platform.

Emerging markets
While the United States still accounts for 65 percent of mobile ad impressions delivered worldwide, this number is down from a high of 73 percent at the beginning of the year. The fastest growing emerging markets for mobile advertising are Russia and Ukraine, according to Opera software.

Additional highlights from the year include a significant increase in demand for mobile ads targeted to the Hispanic segment and the appearance of more creative mobile ad units.

The most innovative ad unit in 2012 came from Kia, according to Opera. The car manufacturer debuted a Build A Car ad unit enabling users to see various colors and 360-degree views and resulted in a more sophisticated mobile site experience through customization options, video content and car-shopping tools.

In terms of click-through rates, the top-performing campaign was in the mobile gaming category with a 2.1 percent CTR. The campaign took advantage of new targeting technologies.

?If you are focused on monetization through advertising, then publishers have to prioritize iOS over Android,? Mr. de Silva said.

?Being thoughtful about ad placement and frequency - particularly with rich media ad units - will drive better revenue vs. a standard banner or footer on every page,? he said.

?Knowing your audience and where they are - targeting - drives much higher CPMs than untargeted ads.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York