emarketer-advertising-report-copy.jpgReport Identifies US Market, Messaging and “Mobile Subsidized by Advertising” as Hottest Areas.

As inevitable as the changing of the seasons comes another mobile advertising report from eMarketer. The report carries the subtitle “After the Growing Pains,” although “A Prelude to Growing Pains” might have been a more apt tagline.

As with earlier eMarketer reports, the work contains an analysis of primary and (mostly) secondary research relating to the global mobile advertising market, along with a smattering of quotes from industry heavyweights and all-stars. While most of the research cited in the piece comes from reputable, independent third party sources, the quality of the data varies from section to section, and becomes somewhat corrupted by several sources containing obvious lack of independence (such as data from Third Screen Media on the “Average Price for a Mobile Marketing Campaign,” or AdMob’s report on “Worldwide Mobile Advertising Impressions”). While interesting and no doubt impressive on an anecdotal level, such data unfortunately cannot be viewed as objective research.

Market size. Fascinatingly, eMarketer deems the US as the most dynamic region for mobile web advertising due to “its position as the largest interactive economy.” While we have no data that directly contradicts this conclusion, it would seem likely that other global regions where mobile data services are far more utilized (Asia-Pac, Europe and Latin America), would be more attractive from an mobile advertising standpoint.

emarketer-1.jpgThe report identifies 2012 as the year that Asia-Pac will usurp the US in total mobile marketing spending “largely due to the huge middle classes in China and India who use mobile as their primary interactive screen.” Indeed, the middle class in BRIC nations is “expected to double between 2006 and 2009, and [is projected to] reach a total of one billion people in 2015. That will match or even exceed the total combined population of the US, Western Europe and Japan.”

The report breaks down mobile advertising budgets into three areas: messaging, mobile display and search (other areas of mobile advertising, such as in-game or video, are deemed to small to be measurable). The search category also counts dollars spent on sponsored directory assistance, which explains why search budgets eclipsed mobile display dollars in 2007 $83 MM to $52 MM, respectively. Overall, global mobile advertising spending is projected to rise to $19,149 MM in 2012, from $2,695 MM in 2007. eMarketer has Messaging-related campaigns dominating mobile budgets through 2012, although declining from 95% of all mobile ad spending in 2007 to a projected 74% of budgets in 2012.

Mobile Advertising by Region. While lagging behind most of the word in terms of mobile penetration, eMarketer purports that the US is currently the largest mobile advertising market, with total 2007 spending estimated at $878 MM (projected to $6,525 MM by 2012). Mobile ad buying is said to be driven by digital ad buying shops here in the US.

emarket-usa-budgets.jpgemarket-w-europe.jpgemarket-asia-pac-spends.jpgThe report cites Western Europe as (currently) the second largest mobile advertising market ($1,074 MM in 2007 to $5,550 in 2012). Asia-pac, currently at $700 MM, is projected to move into second place in 2012 (with mobile adverting spends in the region expected to rise to $6,877 MM by the time the next year of the dragon rolls around).

While growth in the Asian markets is primarily viewed as a function the overall economic growth on the region (this, coupled with the fact that the mobile handset is seen as the primary internet device in Asia), the story in Western Europe is muddied a bit by the largely unknown effects of flat-rate / “unlimited” data plans (currently being rolled out by Vodafone, T-Mobile, Orange and 3UK), as well as the over-sized pre-paid mobile population in Europe as compared to other regions (it is believed by some that pre-paid users are more accepting of mobile advertising). Lack of 3G network capacity is identified as the main reason that messaging is (and will continue to) dominate mobile ad budgets. That said, the US mobile web population is expected to grow from 37.9 MM in 2007 to 91.7 MM in 2012 (unfortunately research in the the measuring mobile web penetration in markets such as Japan, China Australia and the UK is relatively out-of-date, with some sources going as far back as 4Q 2005!).

emarket-sms-response-global.jpgemarket-mobile-attitude.jpgConsumer Attitude. The report cites a September 2007 Neilsen Mobile report examining global exposure and response to SMS-based advertising. Overall, the now well-known study cites relatively high SMS advertising exposure and response numbers, although (predictably) response rates decline in nearly a linear fashion as exposure to SMS advertising increases (on a market-by-market basis). Specifically, the study found that “58 Million US mobile subscribers has been exposed to a mobile ad during a 30-day period. This equates to about 23% of the total US mobile population. Moreover, nearly half (or 28 million) reported that they had responded at least once to a mobile ad. Nielsen Mobile also reported that 32% of those surveyed said they would accept mobile advertising if it somehow lowered their overall mobile bill, while 13% would accept advertising if it improved the selection of mobile content and services.”

Consumer affinity towards the “Advertising Supported Mobile Services” model is somewhat supported in additional research by the Online Publishers Association which examines consumer attitudes toward mobile advertising in the US and UK. While consumers in the UK overwhelmingly prefer a model whereby mobile advertising is subsidizing the cost of mobile services, US consumers simply “like [an] ad when something free is offered.” Generally speaking, it is hardly surprising that consumers (in any market) like stuff for free!

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