As reported last week (I was out for a short vacation) ValueClick is buying "brand-focused" mobile ad network Greystripe for an estimated $75 million. None of this has been confirmed or announced (though it's apparently an accurate report). TechCrunch says Greystripe's gross revenues will be between $25 and $30 million this year. (See below for update.)
Here's Greystripe's description of itself:
Greystripe is the largest brand-focused mobile advertising network in the US by reach. Greystripe delivers the highest engagement and most sophisticated targeting for brand marketers, the maximum revenue for publishers and app developers, and the best ad experience for users. Greystripe’s proprietary advertising platform serves billions of rich media impressions to over 30 million users of touch-driven devices through more than 3,500 application titles and mobile websites across all major mobile platforms.
Recently Greystripe released research that found roughly a quarter of iPhone and Android owners will be in the market for a new or used car in the next year and 78% of them will use their smartphones as part of the car-buying process. This research illustrates the importance of mobile as both an awareness and direct marketing medium for car-makers -- and by extension brands in general.
Last week WHERE (which operates a local ad network) was acquired by eBay. Although not a pure network, this is another indication that more consolidation is on the way in mobile.
Major independents that remain in the market include inMobi, 4Info, which recently became a "full service" mobile ads platform, Millennial Media (right now headed toward an IPO) and Jumptap. Others include Mojiva and Medialets, as well as mediators such as Smaato.
Independent Local-mobile ad network xAD is also a definite acquisition target. Because xAD hasn't done a great deal of PR for itself most people are unaware of its reach, high CPMs and overall quality. It's definitely a prize waiting to be snatched up.
Recently DataXu established the first "mobile DSP." This PC-mobile crossover will become standard in the near-term -- and ValueClick-Greystripe is an indication. To a lesser degree so is the eBay-WHERE acquisition.
Below is comScore's "Ad Focus" rankings that show the top 50 PC ad networks:
Each of the PC networks will be compelled to add mobile reach/distribution either through a partnership or acquisition within the next 12-24 months.
Update: According to Citi's Mark Mahaney, "Greystripe will be run as a wholly-owned subsidiary within ValueClick Media." He says that Greystripe is "expected to add $24-$26MM in revenue and $2-$3MM in EBITDA."
As you've no doubt seen by now WHERE.com was acquired by eBay for an estimated $135 million. WHERE had 2010 revenues of $17 million and projected revenue for 2011 was $40 million.
WHERE has a bunch of assets: great domain, strong mobile app, mobile ad network (120K-130K advertisers), deals functionality and a strong team. The company was reportedly offered a bunch of VC money but chose to take eBay's buyout offer instead.
They were right to do it. While it's possible that WHERE could have built a great deal more revenue and usage, the company also faced massive challenges from larger players such as Google, Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare. It also faced challenges from newer entrants (flavor of the month).
In addition WHERE.com, the PC site, is a huge opportunity that the company has not been able to develop successfully -- so far. Let's see if eBay can do it.
WHERE's ascendancy might be peaking now and a year or two from now the company might not be in the same position of strength. It's possible that WHERE could have grown much bigger if it were to remain independent but I'm not so sure.
Accordingly I think it was smart to take the money and run.
The iPhone had been driving strong wireless growth at AT&T for the past several quarters. So when the Verizon iPhone hit many financial analysts assumed there would be widespread defections and a corresponding slowing of wireless growth. Not so according to Q1 2011 AT&T revenues released this morning.
The AT&T saw a 39% increase in Q1 profit. Revenues rose to $31.2 billion in the first quarter, up $700 million vs. a year ago. Here are some additional earnings highlights:
Rougly 40% of the 5.5 million smartphone sales (AT&T's third best quarter for smartphone sales) were made up of non-iPhone devices. The carrier now has 97.5 million wireless subscribers.
Ad network InMobi released its latest Mobile Insights Report: Global Edition March 2011. Based on 31.9 billion monthly impressions generated by 220 million consumers, the latest report shows phones running the Android OS overtaking Apple's iPhone. This is consistent with most other data in the market.
The report continues to show Nokia as the global smartphone leader but, like other sources, indicates a decline in its overall share. Strikingly, InMobi says "Nokia lost -3.9 share points in just 90 days, while Samsung (+1.6 share pts), Apple (+1.9 share pts) and HTC (+2.8 share pts) gained share."
Another striking data point: "35% of all mobile ad impressions now occur on smartphones."
In North America, as with the Millennial data just released this morning, the Verizon iPhone has helped Apple but that has not been enought to slow Android's momentum. But for quarter, according to InMobi, Apple's growth outpaced Android's in North America. RIM also grew.
Globally Android, iOS and RIM grew while others declined according to the report. Below, compare the most recent IDC numbers (global estimates for year-end 2011) and those from comScore (US) representing the most recent quarter.
The IDC numbers for Android above are quite aggressive vs. what InMobi show. IDC's numbers are projections based on existing sales and additional assumptions about future consumer purchase behavior. ComScore's data are based on consumer surveys.
NAVTEQ put out a press release yesterday announcing results of "its first hyper-local ad campaign targeting millions of users of the Poynt application." Poynt is a search app. The NAVTEQ ads tested were location and/or contextually relevant to user queries.
Here are the results:
The maiden campaign featured hyper-local ads for national gas station and restaurant brands throughout the United States. All four campaigns performed three to five times better than the industry average* click-through rate (CTR) of .49 with an average CTR of 2.68% across campaigns. Post-click user engagement ranged from 4.49% to as high as 11.25%, depending on advertiser.
The 2.7% CTR and engagement numbers are better than average, but still not as strong as those reported by several others offering local-mobile advertising or location-based ads on mobile devices. Off the top of my head I know that TeleNav, xAD, Placecast and JiWire have local-mobile ad performance data that exceed the reported NAVTEQ metrics.
[Ads] resulted in a click thru rate of 3.8 percent, which is significantly greater than traditional mobile and online display ads. Moreover, the data indicates that the conversion rate of users who drive to the business location after clicking on an ad presented in TeleNav's local search results is nearly 24 percent.
Local-mobile ad network xAD told me that it sees average local search CTRs of 5% to 8%, with some campaigns exhibiting higher response rates. Google also previously reported that after a local-mobile lookup 61% of users called a business and 59% visited a location in person.
The larger point is that directional searches on the go are highly commercial in nature with action likely to be taken by the individuals conducting them.
Marchex has acquired Jingle Networks, which operates the 800-Free-411 consumer service and a mobile ad network. The acquisition is valued at $62.5 million and is a mix of cash and stock. Jingle had previously raised roughly $70 million since it was founded in 2004 in multiple rounds from investors.
The acquisition will boost the Marchex Call Advertising Network and (finally) provides Jingle with an exit. Jingle launched with terrific fanfare and seemed like a great option for mobile callers seeking to avoid growing 411 fees. However, the growth of smartphones has taken a toll (so to speak) on directory assistance call volumes and they continuing to erode albeit at a relatively stable pace.
Compared to traditional carriers, Jingle had a more interesting and diversified model than traditional 411. (Google shuttered its Jingle competitor, 800-GOOG-411 last year.) The best of the free 411 services was Microsoft's, Bing-411, which continues to operate.
Marchex says that the addition of Jingle's calls and mobile network to its own will deliver "annualized reach of more than 500 million phone calls across digital media." The company says that Jingle's revenues will be $26 million in 2011. Call-based advertising will now constitute "75% of [Marchex's] revenues on an annualized basis by the end of 2011."
Marchex says that the overall market for calls is worth $179 billion annually and includes both online and offline media. These are ads "intended to generate calls." The company also says that some of the campaigns on its call network generate 10X response and conversions from consumers vs. clicks.
While there are dozens of forecasts out there, most of them with aggressive predictions of growth, no one knows really how big the tablet market will be. Much of that will depend on pricing. Regardless, tablets are not a fad and there's considerable evidence that they're starting to impact PC usage for their owners. (Smartphone usage still generally seems to be "additive" to PC usage.)
The latest tablet usage data to come out is from AdMob (Google), based on a March 2011 survey (n=1,430) in the US market. Google doesn't break it out by device, but respondents were probably more than 90% iPad owners.
According to the findings, "77% of respondents reported that their desktop/laptop usage decreased after getting a tablet" and 28% now call their tablet their "primary computer." In a related finding "43% of respondents spend more time with their tablet than with their desktop/laptop."
A majority (68%) of users spend at least an hour a day with their tablets, while most tablet usage is at home, at night, during the week. In terms of activities, here's what the survey revealed about most and least popular:
Millennial released some February "SMART" data this morning. Here are some of the highlights:
For Millennial "local market" can be zip, state or metro-level targeting; it varies. But this growth indicates that the sophistication of mobile marketers is also growing, creating different ads/offers for different markets.
The second graphic is more interesting in many ways. It reflects tactics and campaign objectives:
While there are always going to be a range of objectives on display, depending on the marketer and the campaign, a set of "better practices" will emerge and there will be a tighter range of objectives over time. One of the objectives that will survive is branding/awareness.
Mobile will emerge as one of the most effective branding and awareness media, perhaps second only to TV. It will also have the benefit of being "actionable" in a way that TV is not: submit a form, make a call, locate a dealer.
The branding or awareness messaging and functionality (e.g., video) qualifies the user and then "find a store/dealer" or "put me on the list" creates the lead capture or direct response opportunity. However all awareness media become more "actionable" with mobile; consumers are using their mobile devices with or beside other traditional media and even their PCs. Here's a nice graphic from Microsoft to illustrate it (but there's much more data like this too):
TeleNav has a subscriber base of more than 20 million people, distributed over 600 devices in many countries. The company has done a good job of surviving the free navigation push by Google, Nokia and more recently Mapquest. It has an enterprise business as well as a direct consumer business. TeleNav also powers many of the carrier navigation services.
Earlier this week the company put out an "infographic" with some top-level US data about navigation usage. (As an aside I wish companies would stop putting out these so-called infographics for PR purposes. People pick them up, just as I have, but they make reading and understanding the data more difficult than it needs to be. It's a gimmick that should come to an end in my view.)
The chart shows that the top places US TeleNav users are navigating to. It also stands as a kind of unintended indictment of Americans' tastes and behavior.
The most searched/navigated locations are Wal-Mart, Target, Starbucks, Best Buy. McDonald's is in there at number 6. Navigational queries like this (name-in-mind searches) represent about 60% of local searches coming from mobile devices currently. Collectively Pizza, American (food) and Burgers represent about 63% of restaurant-related queries. And among them McDonald's and Pizza Hut figure prominently.
Separately TeleNav conducted a survey of drivers and found, among other things, that:
Nearly 25 percent of both sexes reported sending at least one text message while driving per week. Men texted the most, with 36 percent of those who text while driving indicating they send an average of seven or more texts per week while on the road. In contrast, only 23 percent of women admitted to texting as frequently.
Below is a video demo of the current version of TeleNav (as AT&T Navigator):
Millennial Media's "Mobile Mix" report for February is out. It reflects device usage on Millennial's ad network, which the company says (per IDC) is the largest "independent" network, after Google and Apple. Among the stats offered by the company:
Moving on, there are a number of interesting observations to be made from the "Top 30 Mobile Devices" chart below.
The Galaxy Tab is the number 7 device on the list. In January Samsung announced that it had sold two million of the devices. However it was later forced to clarify that those were not sales to consumers but sales to distributors. The actual consumer sales figures are significantly less -- perhaps less than half the announced number. Indeed, while I've seen them in stores, I have not seen one in use in the world by an actual person.
Take a look at the "Google Insights for Search" chart below. This is for the last 30 days but it looks very similar going back. There is effectively no demand, as reflected in search volume, for the "Xoom" or the "Galaxy Tab." Accordingly, given all the available evidence, we can safely assume that almost all consumer sales of the Galaxy Tab have stopped or declined to a trickle.
There are likely relatively few Galaxy Tabs actually in the market. This probably means that to be in the seventh position on Millennial's chart those few devices are getting very heavy usage -- especially in comparison to other Android smartphones.
Alternatively it could mean that sales of those devices below the Tab on the chart were fewer than the Tab itself. That would probaby be an incorrect interpretation however. More likely the data reflect that the Tab is being used much more than other Android devices and all the BlackBerry handsets, for mobile Web access.
This brings to mind InsightExpress' comment in its recent consumer insights report that there's a new "a middle category" of mobile users who technically own smartphones but don't engage with them as fully as, for example, iPhone owners. InsightExpress equally observed that this middle group doesn't act like feature phone owners either.
Extrapolating from the position of the Galaxy Tab vs. other Android devices on Millennial's network it would appear that a large percentage of Android users fall into this new middle category.
Yahoo released a mobile white paper called "Mobile Internet – Delivering on the Promise of Mobile Advertising." It's part one of a series. There's a great deal of mobile consumer data in the document. The report covers multi-screen usage (TV + mobile) and tablets in addition to laying out some general mobile consumer behavior numbers and trends.
Citing third party data the report asserts that by the end of 2011 there will be 126 million mobile Internet users. Currently there are more than 90 million in the US according to Nielsen. I would estimate that at the end of 2011 mobile Internet users will number closer to 150 million.
Yahoo cites survey data that shows about 50% of consumers claim they purchase an item after researching it on mobile, while "90% of mobile owners access the web from the retail store floor." Google has slightly different numbers but they're broadly consistent (79% of smartphone owners use their phones while shopping and 74% purchased something as a result).
Yahoo also identifies mobile Internet usage patterns, which appear to be largely parallel during week days and on the weekend. Google and others have argued that PC and mobile usage patterns are complementary.
Here's Google's data about PC and mobile Internet "daypart" usage (via Efficient Frontier). It shows a slightly different pattern than the Yahoo data above.
Mobile Internet use is high in the home, as well as on the go. Yahoo said that 89% of mobile users access the mobile Internet at home. In addition, "86% of mobile Internet users surf the Web while watching TV, often searching for information on advertised products."
Mobile devices thus need to be thought about by marketers and publishers in a more holistic sense. Consumers are using them in the home and in conjunction with other media. This media mutlitaksing was previously done via laptop in front of the TV. I would imagine laptops are quickly being replaced by smartphones and tablets.
Finally Yahoo says that when online and mobile advertising are combined there's a significant lift. This is the same argument that has been made about search and display: "1 + 1 = 3." In addition, in terms of effectiveness Yahoo cites case studies that show significant mobile performance gains over PC:
See related post: Report: 43% of Mobile Internet Usage Happening in Home
Mobile ad network InMobi today released its "Mobile Insights Report: Global Edition January 2011." The report effectively covers all major regions of the globe and there's a trove of data from each continent. I'll focus only on North America and global data.
The company reports that smartphones now represent 36% of global ad requests on the InMobil publisher network, up from 24% -- just three months ago. Most of that growth has been driven by Android. But most ad requests (84%) are coming from mobile Web vs. apps (16%).
Unlike in the US where Android is now the top smartphone platform, Nokia and Apple outstrip Android on a global basis. However Android's growth is much greater than that of the iPhone and Nokia is declining by almost as much as Android is growing.
In North America operating system share appears like this to InMobi:
InMobi explains that Android has gained 21 share points in just three months to become the largest OS in North America.
These numbers are not an absolute reflection of market share but what InMobi sees in terms of handsets and operating systems making ad requests. In terms of individual handsets, the iPhone continues to dominate on InMobi's network globally and in North America.
Global device share:
North American device share:
It's clear from the totality of all the available data that Android's gains are coming through the sheer number of devices in the market. Windows isn't on the radar for InMobi in North America. And RIM appears to be getting overwhelmed by the Android onslaught.
Loopt was an early friend finder and social network for mobile devices that has been forced to reinvent itself and try different things repeatedly because of the entry competitors and better-known brands into its space: e.g., Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, Google.
The most recent effort to do that is with its new "Reward Alerts," which are limited-time offers that are pushed to users based on location. This is similar to an AT&T-Placecast ShopAlerts initiative that was also announced this week. In that case AT&T handset users opt-in to receive deal alerts and they're pushed to users via SMS/MMS depending on location.
Initial advertisers for the Loopt program include Participating companies include Altec Lansing, FOX Broadcasting, Gilt City, Jawbone, Microsoft, OkCupid, Southwest Airlines, TabbedOut, Twelve South, TiVo and Yurbuds.
In order to participate, users must download the new version of the app, turn on "rewards" then the deals start flowing based on where users are. Loopt has had a deals/coupons product for some time in Loopt Star; however this is a more interesting and potentially successful implementation.
Deals have become immensely popular and the opt-in/push dimension of Placecast's and now Loopt's programs will make them compelling to marketers. For Loopt scale will be key. The company has more than four million users (compare Foursquare's 6+ million). However the Placecast program, because it's text-based, has an addressable audience of 95 million hypothetically (the entire AT&T subscriber base).
WHERE also offers location-based push couponing.
A study of just over 2,000 consumers in the UK, commissioned by mobile marketing company Upstream, conducted by YouGov, found that "only a minority of UK consumers claim to have clicked on a mobile display advert."
The survey found that 14% of mobile consumers reported clicking on a mobile display ad. For smartphone users the figure was slightly higher at 23%. Beyond this, 32% of all respondents and half of smartphone owners said they found mobile banners to be "an irritation."
According to the study SMS was cited by respondents as the medium that "would make them most likely to respond fastest to a relevant deal or offer" (15%); 3% cited banners and 2% cited in-app ads. The SMS hypothetical response figures were larger among smartphone owners (25%).
These survey findings must be taken with a grain of salt. There are other data that show (based on actual consumer behavior) mobile display (including video) ad engagement is much higher than online. Mobile display ads across the board outperform online by a wide margin. InsightExpress has shown, based on measurement of actual campaigns, that mobile outperforms online by almost 5X in terms of most brand metrics.
I have no doubt that people responded in the way described above and expressed "irritation" at mobile "banners." However, there's often a discrepancy between what people say in surveys and what they do.
Finally CTR is not necessarily the measure of an effective ad. There are documented "latent" and "offline" impacts from online display ads that have never been clicked on. Furthermore, I believe that mobile (including tablets) may turn out to be the most effective branding medium available to advertisers.
Millennial Media put out its monthly "Mobile Mix" device and OS report reflecting the top operating systems and devices accessing publisher sites on its network. The report showed a renewed surge by Apple devices, but Android remained the top smartphone OS. The company also exposed some global OS metrics from Stat Counter.
Here are the highlights:
Here are the smartphone and OS share figures on Millennial's network for January:
Compare November, 2010:
Smartphone penetration has grown and Android has dramatically grown. Apple's OS now accounts for slighly more than half of the ad requests on Millennial's network. Below, however, is global OS market share, showing Android with about half the penetration of iOS.
For some time I've speculated that mobile might be a more compelling branding medium than TV. InsightExpress and Dynamic Logic have shown data multiple times that reflect higher brand lift and unaided recall from mobile vs. PC display ads. Now comes a study with the first solid evidence of my prediction, showing that iAds performed better than TV advertising.
Campbell's Soup, one of the early iAd adopters, conducted a study with Nielsen, measuring recall, intent to purchase, favorability and other metrics. According to a write-up of the study in AdAge:
Those exposed to one of Campbell's iAds were more than twice as likely to recall it than those who had seen a TV ad. Indeed the five-week study, conducted by Nielsen, showed that consumers shown an iAd remembered the brand "Campbell's" five times more often than TV ad respondents and the ad messaging three times more often.
IAd respondents said they intended to purchase Campbell's four times more than the TV group and that they liked the ad five times more. TV and mobile audiences were queried separately in mobile and online surveys. The TV audiences were part of Nielsen's panel, while mobile users were recruited within various apps.
Once again: "IAd respondents said they intended to purchase Campbell's four times more than the TV group." These people are not only potential purchasers of the product but they're social promoters. They'll potentially tell friends about the campaign so there's a likely secondary benefit or effect (which wasn't reported).
This study will have a major impact on brands and agencies, which are adopting mobile marketing and advertising in earnest. It's unlikely to move much of the TV budget in the near term. But if these results are replicated and repeated it will send a shockwave through the big agencies.
We all know that Apple recently announced its 10 billionth app download. But the larger question about apps goes to engagement and retention. How often are apps used and are they used more than once? Mobile app analytics provider Localytics just published data that shows "26% of Apps Downloaded in 2010 Were Used Just Once."
The data overall show between 20% and 30% of mobile subscribers only use apps a single time -- presumably deciding there's not enough there to make them come back. However 75% or so do return, though whether it's more than twice is not mentioned in the Localytics data.
Being discovered is increasingly tough, which is why lots of mobile advertising promotes app downloads. Retaining users it also tough. To my knowledge nobody yet has "normalized" app churn (downloads to regular users). Regardless of the apps heavy users are going to be in the minority vs. occasional users vs. all downloads.
The above data impliedly argue that users should be educated about what the app is about before downloading (via news, PR, word of mouth) and that the app's value proposition must be very intuitive and self-evident. Games are arguably in a different category.
The average number of smartphone apps (per Nielsen) is 37 for the iPhone and 22 for Android devices. Here are the most common app discovery methods:
Accordingly word of mouth would appear to be a critical driver of app adoption. Thus the mundane advice is: build a great and useful (or fun) app and then promote the heck out of it through all available channels.
Friday Google released AdMob data showing 2010 growth and ad distribution by region for the Google mobile display network. The largest region is North America (dominated by the US), followed by Asia and Western Europe.
According to IDC's most recent estimates mobile display is not as big a revenue source as mobile paid search for Google. Here are the estimated US mobile display ad market share figures (minus search dollars):
The following are the AdMob charts showing 2010 growth by region:
4INFO yesterday announced that it has dramatically grown its display ad business and now reaches "75 percent of all US Mobile Web." It has done this by leveraging its US SMS advertising and publisher relationships to include display advertising from the company. 4INFO also touted some high display campaigns in its release:
Last November 4INFO launched its "AdHaven" platform, which the company promotes as a "360 degree" solution for advertisers and which offers "display and SMS advertising, as well mobile app, rich media, and video ad units."
While SMS has the greatest reach of any mobile ad format it's not well appreciated by brands and agencies, much like search was shunned by brands for years until necessity drove adoption.
Tom was CEO of ExtendMedia, which he grew into the leading IP video platform serving major operators, including AT&T, Verizon and Bell Canada, and leading movie studios, including Disney and Paramount. Extend was acquired by Cisco Systems in September 2010. Previously, Tom served as CEO of Lightningcast, a pioneer in online video advertising where he led the development of the first advertising technology platform specifically designed for monetizing broadband video and launched the first online video ad network. After AOL acquired Lightningcast in 2006, Tom served as SVP Strategy overseeing strategy, strategic planning and corporate and business development for AOL's market-leading advertising business, Advertising.com. Prior to Lightningcast, Tom was founder and CEO of Backwire, an online and mobile messaging company that was acquired by Leap Wireless in 2001. Prior to his career in digital media, Tom was a corporate lawyer with the global law firm Dechert.
Verve is positioning itself as a premium local display ad network for mobile. It originally developed its network, like Quattro and others previously, by building and hosting publisher (primarily newspaper) mobile sites. The company is focused on both national-local and small business advertisers. It has a presence in the "top 200 markets" in the US.
Recently surveys by Handmark and Pew show the degree to which mobile has become an important and even preferred news medium, especially for breaking news. According to the Handmark survey (n=300,000):
Mobile has pulled ahead of the desktop web as the preferred medium to access breaking news information. More than 30% of respondents surveyed feel mobile is the most important medium to access breaking news, compared to 29% who prefer the desktop web, 21% who prefer television, and a mere 3% who chose newspapers as their the most important medium for breaking news.
This will be a significant year for mobile advertising and growth. The foundation has been laid in the form of consumer adoption of smartphones and mobile in general. Regardless of which mobile ad forecast one points to, the medium is now a critical one -- both for publishers and advertisers seeking to build awareness or to drive offline purchases.