The Fight for Mobile Advertising Dominance

by Jeff Wiener on October 27, 2011

I have yet to find a mobile user that is impressed or influenced by the annoying advertising that seems to pop up on our smartphones and  tablets at the most inopportune times, but nevertheless, mobile advertising has quickly become the new financial frontier for tech and marketing companies alike.

In fact, both Apple and Google have dedicated exhaustive R&D resources to developing their respective mobile ad platforms in an attempt to corner the new advertising medium, a race that the technology world has followed closely over the past few years.

Recently two separate studies were released, compiling the data over this past quarter in an attempt to declare a mobile advertising winner. So who has won the race for mobile advertising dominance? Well, that all depends on who you ask.

It always amazes me how murky things can get even when we’re all staring at the cold hard statistical data, but perhaps that’s nothing new in the mobile technology market. According to two separate reports from ABI Research and Millennial Media, it would seem at the outset that Android is leading the mobile advertising race, accounting for 56 percent of all mobile ad impressions this past quarter.

For those that don’t know, an ad impression is simply the appearance of an advertisement on a website or application, meaning in this case that Google’s Android platform accounted for more than half of all mobile ad appearances, saying nothing about how effective said advertising was at generating revenues.

The Millennial report found that Apple’s iOS, for its part, had exactly half the mobile ad impressions that Android did at 28 percent. That said, iOS saw some spectacular growth over hits past quarter, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 60 percent.

Interestingly enough, the ABI report found that in this past quarter Android finally overtook iOS in total mobile application downloads, with market shares now of 44 and 31 respectively. Surprisingly though, Apple still dominates Android in single user app usage though, almost two to one.

So what does this all tell us? Truthfully, these stats don’t tell us much, at least not conclusively. In fact, despite the fact that Android shows more mobile advertisements than anyone else, it’s still too early to crown a winner. It really comes as no surprise to me that Android dominates that particular category, as I’ve written many times before; Android phones clearly dominate the mobile market in terms of quantity of devices.

Further, while Android tops the ad impressions category simply on quantity of devices, the reports indicate that Apple pretty much dominates everything else. In the tablet market, it should come as no surprise that the iPad takes it hands down, accounting for some 97 percent of all tablet ads.

That being said, there’s no question that Google’s quantity over quality approach has its merits, and advertisers are beginning to recognize it. The search engine giant has strategically offered numerous Android  phones at every price point, a sure fire way to reach the largest demographic of people with mobile ads…of course, whether or not anyone is actually clicking on those ads remains to be seen.

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