Mobilestance is proud to host the 172nd edition of the Carnival of the Mobilists
For the uninitiated, the Carnival of the Mobilists is a weekly roundup of the very best in mobile writings from across the blogosphere. It’s been over a year since we last hosted the Carnival, and we’re happy to say that it’s still going strong… with over a dozen of posts to choose from we’ve got our work cut out for us, so let’s get started!
Allaboutiphone.net does a great job breaking down why barcode scanning is easier on Android than it is on iPhone in Barcode Scanning and Shopping with the iPhone, including some alternative approaches developers have taken to work around limitations in the current iPhone SDK. Hopefully things will change with the release of the “new batch of iPhone goodies” heavily rumored to come out this June/July?
Finally, Wild Illusions lays down some quality coverage of the medical App and services landscape in Mobile Pearls vol. IV: Mobile Healthcare Edition. This sector is about to explode with the release of iPhone 3.0 this summer and its support of external hardware, so a very timely post to be sure.
Mobile Marketing & Advertising. Over at London Calling: the Mobile Advertising Blog you’ll find a mobile marketing cautionary tale worth reading, or – why marketers need to REALLY pay attention to privacy in mobile, and not just give it the lip service that usually passes for “privacy concerns” in other digital channels. Consequently, it’s experiences like what’s described in this post that have informed my decision to never do business with SMS list brokers, regardless of what they tell me of of double, triple or even quadruple opt-in. Sorry list-brokers, not only do I just don’t believe you, but all that opt-in language largely misses the point that consumers aren’t ready for most mobile push tactics, period.
Handsets and Hardware. Only one post this week on the hardware side of the house, but it’s a real gem in “From MotoLozr to MotoRcvr via MotoTxtr: How to Prevent the Slo-Mo Suicide of Moto the Grand” from Communities Dominate Brands. In this age of commonplace bankrupcies of iconic American brands like Chrysler and Citibank, this is a very well thought out, well written and poignant piece on the OEM so close to our hearts. Our RUNNER UP FOR POST OF THE WEEK, and just by a hair!
So there you have it. Carnival #172 in all it’s glory. A shout out to next week’s carnival host, RadVision VoIP Survivor… and as always, to get in on all the hot blog-on-blog action submit your mobile-related stories to: mobilists [at] gmail [dot] com.
Check out the best and brightest in mobile posts from across the blogosphere, including an examination of “iPhone Application Overload,” the explosion in African WAP use, and an example of that rarest of rare breeds: a positive example of Bluetooth marketing!
New Format Lowers Barriers to Entry for Risk Averse Mobile Advertisers.
Last week Google quietly introduced mobile image ads last week by way of a nondescript post on the official Google Mobile blog.
The announcement is significant as this is the first time that a major publisher has committed to selling mobile display ads on a Cost-per-Click basis. The ads are purchased from the familiar AdWords dashboard, utilizing the search giant’s tried and true keyword bid for placement engine. Curiously, pixel dimensions on the new units do not follow current MMA-recommended standards for mobile ad banner sizes and aspect ratios, but instead follow a previous iteration of the guidelines.
Our regular readers will recognize that Mobilestance has been a vocal supporter of performance-based mobile display ads, as their availability opens up an entirely new base of mobile advertisers – from the more conservative major brands (“I’ll buy it when you show me it works”), to the smaller, more budget conscious advertisers (“I’ve got 10k a month to spend, and you want me to spend it on your untested format?”). Additionally, the display ads should help smaller publishers start to make a business out of their nascent mobile websites.
Still, several challenges and unanswered questions remain. Like Google’s existing (text-based) mobile ad offerings, conversion tracking continues to be problematic for mobile handsets unable to accept cookies (anywhere from 50 – 80% of total us handsets, or 20 – 40% of mobile traffic – depending on who you choose to believe).
Additional questions that come to mind include: Approximate # of monthly avail impressions (US, GLOBAL)? Approximate monthly reach / # of uniques (US, GLOBAL)? Approximate # of publishers in the Google “Mobile Image Ads” (display) network? (US, GLOBAL) Any publishers that I might have heard of? (any premiere pubs, or all “long tail”)? Any premiere advertisers signed up yet? Examples of “going CPC’s” for various keywords.
I plan on testing the ads soon, so eventually I’ll share whatever I can here w/o disturbing the peace…. Until then, enjoy Google’s self-produced home movie on their new offering – a serious “tell” that the Googliers are pretty excited about their new product.
Separate Moves By Nielsen, DoubleClick and AdMob Significantly Enhance the Mobile Web’s Viability as an Advertising Medium.
It’s as if three of the biggest leaders in digital marketing huddled up last week and decided to tackle some of the thorniest issues facing the ad-supported mobile web. “Nielsen you go left and take unduplicated audience tracking… DoubleClick, you go long and take third party ad network integration… and AdMob, take the right post and hit mobile site analytics.”
Nielsen, wasting precious little time integrating Telephia’s mobile web tracking suite into their existing wireline web tracking tools, released their “TotalWeb” analytics product last week. The new Nielsen product boasts the ability to track unduplicated audience across over 200 major PC and mobile web sites, a first-of-its-kind achievement and a highly significant milestone in the evolution of the mobile web as a marketing channel. Could this put Nielsen out in front of comScore in digital?
To show off their new product, Nielsen announced some fairly interesting “% [reach] lift” stats produced by mobile web sites complementing PC sites – in various content categories. While on the average, PC sites increased their reach by an impressive 13% via the mobile web, results differed widely by content category. Weather and Entertainment (both seeing 22% lift) led the field, followed by Games and Music (15% lift each), Email (11%), Sports (10%), Business Finance (4%), Social Networking (3%), Search (2%), and Shopping / Auctions (1%).
A few things about these findings immediately jump out to me:
Some of the categories assumed to be the most significant either to the mobile context (shopping) or the early-adopting demo graphic (sports, business), appear to be less about reach (when used in tandem with online) – and more about frequency and/or sales channel development.
Surprisingly, the Weather category (a mainstay of the mobile web and tops among individual site traffic stats) is tied with Entertainment (historically a relatively weak performer in mobile web stats) in terms of “% lift” (when combined with online). I’ve no decent explanation for this apparent outlier, but unsubstantiated several theories come to mind.
Next up is DoubleClick, who announced their mobile publisher-side solution “is integrating with mobile ad networks including AdMob, Google’s AdSenseTM for mobile content, and Millennial Media’s premium MBrand network as well as its DecktradeTM performance network.” Similar to how DoubleClick enables online publishers to segment and doll out their available advertising inventory to a variety of ad networks and third party resellers, the move aims to improve inventory fill rates, a key concern among mobile publishers, by way of a rules-based dashboard. The idea is that mobile publishers will be able to garner the highest CPMs and fill rates possible by optimizing their inventory across a variety of independent sales channels.
No doubt the move is a welcome one and is absolutely needed for the long term viability of the mobile publishing industry, it will be interesting to see if the move actually helps mobile publishers in the short term in light of the existing glut of mobile ad inventory. That said, apparently DoubleClick is not (seemingly) short on publishers interested in their new solution, as (while none have yet signed on to use the platform), they have informed us that no less than five major mobile publishers had inquired about the system before the announcement was 24 hours old.
Finally, we have AdMob, who announced their new mobile website analytics tool set, aptly named “AdMob Analytics.” The move is highly reflective of their (admirable) determination to be “The Google of Mobile,” in that AdMob appears to be using Google Analytics as its model. By design, the tool is aiming to be easy to use, accurate and dependable, and above all else… FREE! Any of you mobile publishers out there who got a notice from Hitbox in the last few weeks can attest to the value of that last one (what is it about Omniture that just rubs people the wrong way? Oh yeah… something about contracts renegotiation by decree).
While only in beta, AdMob Analyitcs is set to provide the mobile web community with something it desperately needs: decent and affordable site stats. Clearly AdMob will benefit from a system where mobile publishers can easily understand how their campaigns are performing (where their traffic is coming from and what its doing once it gets to their site), but so will the rest of the ecosystem.
All in all, a pretty good week for the mobile web.
According to the latest release from M:Metrics, US mobile subs are more actively consuming mobile media than their counterparts in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Denmark. While the male-focused piece, entitled “The Way to A Man’s Heart is Through His Mobile Phone”, was well publicized in the major trade press for its key story that men respond twice as frequently to SMS offers as women do (9% to 4%, respectively), a less emphasized set of data points seem far more interesting to those who have had their fill of the “US as Mobile Laggard” story.
The piece points out that “U.S. mobile users are more active consumers of mobile media, as unlike Europeans they use SMS less frequently for news and information retrieval and are more likely to have data plans, which directly impacts mobile content consumption.” While anecdotally this seems fair enough (it would make sense that the highly web-centric US pop would be less enamored of SMS-based media and search services in favor of the more familiar browser-based approach), what is more striking that the US has achieved a higher percentage of mobile media usage while considerably lagging behind many markets in both 3G and smartphone penetration – both considered fairly-reliable leading indicators of mobile media use.
Does this mean that Americans will considerably out pace Europeans in mobile media usage if and when the US catches up to the rest of the planet in terms of 3G and smartphone penetration? Perhaps… either that, or it could be that we’ve be led astray by erroneous data fed by survey-based research methodology (wouldn’t be the first time). Ultimately, more research is needed before a conclusion can be drawn, but certainly the data is encouraging for the US mobile media market.
Report 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.
The 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.
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!).
Consumer 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.”
Platform Integrates Local Dealer Inventories and CRM systems with Mobile Web, SMS.
In a little-noticed move that is poised to significantly raise the profile of mobile marketing in the US automotive industry, Gumiyo, a mobile marketing company based in Woodland Hills, CA, announced a partnership with HomeNet, Inc., a provider of vehicle inventory management and marketing solutions, to provide auto dealers with a turn-key mobile Web marketing solution. A wireline web version of the service, dubbed the “Gumiyo Marketplace,” is also available.
The new service integrates HomeNet’s Inventory Online (IOL) Marketing Suite with Gumiyo’s mobile marketing platform, allowing prospective buyers access to a dealership’s detailed inventory listings, vehicle photos and Carfax reports via SMS and the mobile web. The solution enables consumers to connect directly with dealers, and vice-versa, to schedule test drives follow-up correspondence. Additional options include vehicle search based on make, model, price and geographic location and SMS alerts informing consumers when a car matching their criteria becomes available.
Dealerships are given a unique “GO Code” (SMS keyword) that can be utilized in print, radio, TV and other off-line media as a call to action (consumers responding via the Go Code / shortcode mechanic receive a WAP push MT message leading to the dealership’s specific mobile web site). The dealer’s mobile URL follows the nomenclature of “Go Code.gumiyo.com.” Additionally, consumers can text the GO Code of the dealership + the last 8 digits of the VIN to receive a WAP push MT to the vehicle’s specific mobile web page. Click-2-call/Click-2-Callback, SMS and email all facilitate dealership contact, and the platform’s lead generation channels (both SMS and mobile web form fields) can be integrated directly into the dealership’s CRM systems if desired.
According to the release, “HomeNet’s Inventory Online (IOL) Marketing Suite currently serves more than 12,000 automotive dealership locations throughout the United States and Canada, processing over 2.5 million vehicles each day.” HomeNet’s will be offering the new mobile service as a plus-up to their existing data / CRM package.
Analysis. The combination of Gumiyo’s robust mobile platform with HomeNet’s large install base results in a powerful market force that seems both effective, and relatively simple and inexpensive to set-up and maintain. In a word: scalable – something that has eluded most mobile marketing business models of late. Mobile ad networks (especially those with lots of local, geo-targeted inventory) now have a new big base of potential mobile media buyers! First order of business: track down HomeNet’s install base!
Screengrabs of the Gumiyo Mobile Automotive Marketplace (click on thumbnails for larger images):
Verizon, FOX Take on Additional Sales Partners as US Mobile Ad Inventory Glut Continues.
Millennial Media recently announced an agreement with Verizon Wireless which allows the ad network to begin selling a portion of the carrier’s on deck mobile ad inventory. Prior to this move, AOL’s Third Screen Media was the only third party repping Verizon Wireless inventory. It is believed that Third Screen will continue to sell a portion of Verizon’s on deck ad inventory as well as act as the carrier’s primary ad server.
In a similar move, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based mobile ad network (and white-label search provider) JumpTap announced that had signed deals to sell the mobile ad inventory of both NBC Universal and FOX’s Mobile Entertainment Network (which includes Jamba, as well as mobile extensions of FOX programs such as Family Guy and 24). Millennial Media currently is FOX’s exclusive third party sales partner for all FIM mobile sites, such as mySpace mobile, FOX Sports and rottentomatoes.com.
All these moves would be enough to drive media planners crazy, if only they were paying attention – and therein lies the heart of problem. With well more than half of mobile ad inventory going unsold over any given period, its no wonder publishers are feeling a little antsy about the ability of their sales partners to close the deal. And why aren’t buyers buying? That’s really the question, and we’ve a hunch the publishers wont find relief simply be adding additional sales partners.
For our friends on the supply side of the mobile advertising market, we offer the following advice:
First, you must accept that you are selling a niche media product – a situation that probably will continue for the next three years at a minimum. This means stop with the “reach story.” Stop telling buyers that “over 250 million US consumers own mobile phones” and start with a more sophisticated segmentation strategy that tells buyers that you can efficiently deliver a specific audience against their specific needs. You’ve already got a solid out-of-home story, but why not do what the niche cable nets and magazines do – start by investing in some real research that shows how your audience indexes against specific product categories (MRI would be a good start).
Second, try really experimenting with pricing models other than CPM. Sure, AdMob and a few others have brought text-based CPC inventory to market, but what about getting bold and offering up display-based CPC inventory as well? This will do much to alleviate the inherent risk that buyers must accept in your untested and unproven form of media, and with most of your impressions going unsold month after month you have very little to lose. What’s more, if we’re to believe that mobile click-thrus are really averaging over 2%, then surely you wouldn’t mind putting your numbers on the line with a model that pays out based on campaign performance?
Finally, get togther with each other and figure out a way to track uniques across all publishers, ad networks and carriers. Without this, there is no way your media fits into an (even soft) reach/frequency model – the backbone of modern media planning. Saddle up and get it together. You can’t blame media buyers for this one…
Of course, blame cannot be lopped only on the supply side of the equation. Our friends on the buying side have their work cut out for them as well:
Stop complaining about the “unattractiveness” of existing mobile ad units. Sure, mobile banners are small – but that’s not the point. When viewed as a percentage of the screen they actually are quite reasonably-sized. Hold your phone up to your face (as one does when one browses the mobile web) and it will take on the prominence of a 65″ plasma. Unfortunately mobile is just too new a medium to start messing about with seriously interruptive forms of advertising. Waiting for Verizon to approve that full screen “roadblock” ad unit? Don’t hold your breath.
Take the time to understand what’s really out there. Shaken by rumors of $50 mobile CPMs? You might be surprised to learn that quality mobile display inventory can be had for under $5. Still not happy with mobile ad banners? Well, folks like Greystripe have full screen units for sale, and there are plenty of content integration options with the likes of Buzzd, UpSnap and Free-411. These guys are simply dying to meet you and tell you about what they’re got for sale, so do everyone a favor and put aside 30 minutes a week to meet with them. Get smart on the mobile publishing side and your clients may just reward you.
Finally, challenge the publishers and ad networks to craft real solutions to your clients business objectives. This means sharing (some) information on what you’re trying to accomplish on the media side in terms of strategy, reach and intended action. Too often media salespersons are simply left guessing as to what value their product can add a larger media plan. Is it any wonder they often fall short? I know from experience that these media sales people are a very creative, sharp and hardworking sort. Give them the information they need to succeed and they just might surprise you with a program that makes you both look like rock stars.
We don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we’re more than comfortable with the concept that the more things stay the same, the more mobile advertising will stagnate.
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment and continue the conversation.
Welcome to Carnival of the Mobilists #117, the greatest posts on mobility from across the blogosphere – hosted for the first time on mobilestance.com.
With so many excellent posts this week it was difficult to pick a favorite, but after much hand-wringing and great gnashing of teeth, we’ve chosen Matt’s post on gaming over at AllAboutiPhone.net.
Honorable mentions to Open Gardens and Andrew Grill’s blog.
Post of the Week: Mattat AllAboutiPhone.netheaps a healthy dose of contagious entheusiasm in “Awesome and innovative games are coming” – a look ahead at a not-so-distant future that includes “innovative gaming” and “Apple” in the same sentence! Goes to show you that if you live long enough anything can happen…
Over at Tarekesber.com you’ll find a highly comprehensive list of mobile web design and development resources, including specifics on designing for iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia handsets, as well as overall style guidelines for the both WML and XHTML mobile websites.
Speaking of designing and coding for the mobile web, Denis at WapReview reviews Nirav Mehta’s new book, Mobile Web Development. Least Common Denominator Design, Mobile AJAX, “Web Rich” apps and Widgets are among the topics covered.
Bernardo Carvalho over at rawsocket dot org writing a writes an amusing and educational piece on the potential of QR codes. Extra points for the CueCat reference.
Mark publishes a roundup of papers focused on education and mobility over at Ubiquitous Thoughts, along with (the now infamous) clip highlighting safety measures that may one day protect us all from the dangers of WWTM (walking while text messaging).
Judy at the GoldenSwamp uses an instructional video to make an interesting case against banning mobiles in schools. File this under “Another Reason Why Carbonated Beverages and Education Don’t Mix.”
And what exactly is this thing we’re calling “Open?” Find out this week on Open Gardens, where you’ll get fully briefed on the “It” subject in mobility just in time to impress the ladies (and gentlemen) at this year’s CTIA Wireless, which kicks off tomorrow in Vegas.
Regular carnival contributor Andrew Grill looks at how mobile social networking meets crowd powered media on the back of his experience at the new Heathrow Terminal 5 on opening day. It is amazing how a simple set of photos taken during a live event can become distributed around the world – thanks to the power of mobile social networking applications.
Amobee, Winstar and Quattro Aim to Boost Position, Profitability.
Boost Mobile, the self-proclaimed “lifestyle-based telecommunications brand” focused on the prepaid (pay-as-you-go) US market, announced that they are partnering with Mobile Ad Serving Firm Amobee to bring their on deck mobile web advertising inventory to market – effective immediately – with Acura and Fox Searchlight Pictures already on board as advertisers.
Initially the Boost Mobile advertising inventory will consist of mobile web banner units, although it is well-known that Amobee’s “carrier grade” mobile ad server is fully-capable of serving far more interesting ad units, such as SMS sponsorship, mobile video ads and other enhanced units. Whether Boost ultimately decides to bring additional mobile ad formats remains to be seen.
In addition to the usual mobile web targeting parameters, such as content category and handset targeting, Amobee will leverage its direct carrier-relationship to provide more sophisticated mobile advertising services, including the highly sought-after “session-independent frequency cap.” No plans have been announced regarding more controversial approaches to mobile ad targeting, such location-based or behavioral targeting.
In a noteworthy move, Amobee has chosen to augment its current mobile ad sales partner Winstar Interactive with US-based Quattro Wireless. Our regular readers will recall that back in December of last year mobilestance predicted that Winstar alone would be unable to sell enough ads to satisfy Amobee’s business objectives, and that additional sales partners would ultimately be needed.
It is unclear how ad accounts will be divided between these Winstar and Quattro, but clearly Amobee will need to actively manage this process to avoid any awkward channel conflicts that might arise with multiple (and independent) sales organizations selling the same product to an overlapping customer base.
Analysis. As Boost Mobile is a wholly owned division of Sprint Wireless, Amobee is well positioned to unseat current US legacy “on deck” mobile ad serving companies – specifically Enpocket (now Nokia), who currently manages all the on deck WAP inventory on Sprint – as well as Third Screen Media / AOL, who manages (and sometimes sells) the Verizon Wireless on deck inventory.
Quattro Wireless, who will be celebrating its first birthday in May of this year, has already impressed many with a series of strong moves – including their launch with P&G and Univision Movil, their long term / tail GetMobile platform, and the securing of key talent. Together with Amobee’s well-distributed technology and Boost’s highly attractive audience, these players just might have what it takes to achieve the ultimate (and so far elusive) goal in the mobile advertising marketplace: serious profitability.