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Android edges out iPhone for smartphone ad impression lead

Android?s growth continues to drive acceleration for smartphone ad requests and impression volume, with the platform beating out the iPhone in the fourth quarter of 2012 in terms of impression volume, according to a new report from Opera Software.

The State of Mobile Advertising report found that Android had a 30.94 percent share of mobile phone traffic in the fourth-quarter compared with 29.08 percent for the iPhone. However, the iPhone leads when it comes to monetization, with a 37.28 percent share of revenue compared to 29.97 percent for Android.

?The big news is that Android is edging out iPhone slowly but steadily in terms of impression volume as a mobile phone platform so marketers should be paying attention to Android as a platform more seriously as they plan their marketing strategies,? said Mahi de Silva, executive vice president of consumer mobile at Opera Software.

?However, iOS still remains the top money maker because of the consistent experience consumers get on that platform resulting in better engagement,? he said.

Holiday impressions jump
Rounding out mobile phone operating systems by traffic share were RIM with 3.74 percent, Symbian with 9.01 percent and others with 14.40 percent.

By revenue, RIM had a 4.12 percent share, Symbian 1.69 percent and all others 13.2 percent.

The findings point to the significant jump in marketing and advertising associated with the holiday shopping, with the fourth quarter representing more than a two-times increase in impressions and revenue to publishers compared to any other quarter in 2012.

Among publisher categories, arts and entertainment now generates the most revenue with a 17.8 percent share followed closely by music, video and media with a 17.15 percent share, according to Opera.

In terms of impression volume, music, video and media is No. 1 with a 21.4 percent share of all impressions.

Business and finance continues to produce the most revenue per impression.

Emerging markets
While North America continues to drive the majority of ad requests with a 64 percent share, the number is down from 70 percent in the third quarter. The results suggest ad requests and impression volume is growing across multiple regions.

Europe had a 14.61 percent share of ad requests and Asia Pacific 14.4 percent.

The top countries by impression were the United States followed by Indonesia, Britain, the Russian Federation and India.

The Russian Federation, in particular, experienced significant growth last year with the number of ad impressions increasing over 60 percent between the third and fourth quarters. The growth is being driven by an increase in the adoption of Android devices, which increased over 22 percent during the same period.

?The second most surprising finding in this report was the rise of markets outside of North America particularly in emerging markets like the Russian Federation and Indonesia,? Mr. de Silva said.

Reaching a broad audience
Other key findings from the report include that the rapid adoption of more sophisticated devices is driving innovation in ad units. For example, Opera teamed up with DreamWorks Animation for the release of Madagascar 3 for a mobile ad campaign that included camera overlay, video, animation and social sharing to generate excitement about the film.

The report is based on data from the Opera Mediaworks mobile ad platform during the last quarter of 2012. Opera's platform delivers over 50 billion ad impressions per month on over 12,000 sites and applications for advertisers such as Nordstrom, Walmart, and Coca-Cola.

?The mobile audience on Android phones is substantial - representing 30 percent-plus of all ad impressions in Q4 - and if you want to reach a broad an audience as possible - Android has to be part of your advertising plan,? Mr. de Silva said.

?Because Android has significant fragmentation, the ad execution on Android phones - rich media, video etc - isn't as consistent and reliable as iOS - they need to cognizant of this when they look at ad engagement, dwell times and ultimately conversion rates,? he said.

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