AdMob Data Suggests Divisions in Mobile Ad Market

According to data released by mobile ad firm AdMob this week, its network now receives more smartphone ad requests from Android devices than it does iPhones. The trend suggests a bifurcation of the mobile ad space as Apple takes advertising opportunities on its proprietary devices in-house.

In AdMob’s monthly mobile ad report – based on data collected from its own network – the company said ad requests from the Android operating system significantly outweighed those from iPhone devices during March, accounting for 46 percent of requests compared with 39 percent for Android.

Those figures suggest a significant shift compared with numbers from January, in which the company reported iPhone devices accounted for 47 percent of impressions, compared with just 39 percent for Android.

Earlier this month, Apple altered its application developers’ license agreement to include language that appears to ban serving of third party advertising in applications running on Apple devices. That move is likely designed to grant its Quattro Wireless unit, acquired in January, unchallenged access to iPhone inventory through which to sell its recently announced iAd product.

It’s therefore unsurprising AdMob may want to downplay the significance of iPhone inventory in its own network. Yet, such a shift could also suggest a focus on sourcing inventory from non-Apple devices – in part in reaction to Apple’s activity in the space, and in part aided by Google’s agreement to buy AdMob for $750 million in October.

That transaction is currently being scrutinized by the FTC and Congress in relation to both competition and privacy concerns.

It’s worth noting, however, that although AdMob also serves impressions on iPod Touch devices, the AdMob report does not include those iPod Touch impressions. According to an AdMob spokesperson, “AdMob’s definition of a smartphone does not include the iPod touch. Combined, the iPod touch and iPhone generated 2.9 billion requests in the U.S. [in AdMob’s network] compared to only 1.7 billion requests from Android devices.”

Worldwide, Apple’s dominance of AdMob’s network is even more pronounced, with 6.1 billion requests originating from iPhone and iPod touch devices, compared with 2 billion requests from Android devices, the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, rival mobile ad network Millennial Media also released numbers from its own network this week, and suggests a far smaller share of ad requests from Android devices. Across its own network in March, the firm said iPhone accounted for 70 percent of ad requests, compared with just 6 percent of requests from Android devices.

However, Millennial’s data also points to growth in Android impressions, growing 72 percent month-over-month, albeit from a small base. In comparison, requests were up 20 percent from Apple phones.

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