Smartphone Web Ads Still a Priority for Mobile Marketers

Despite the hype surrounding in-app rich media opportunities such as Apple’s iAd, most marketers still focus the majority of their mobile efforts on web-based display ads, according to a survey conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. In addition, those marketers are more concerned with reaching users through smartphones than other connected devices such as tablets, eBooks and gaming devices, the trade body’s research implied.

In conjunction with research and consultancy firm Ovum, the IAB’s Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence polled 300 marketing executives currently making use of the mobile channel, and found 63 percent of respondents reported an increase in their mobile marketing spend over the past two years. Seventy-two percent of those surveyed also said they plan to further increase their mobile investment.

A large portion of that spend is being directed at mobile web display ads, the research suggested, with 77 percent of respondents making use of the medium compared to just 44 percent buying ads or sponsorships in applications. In-app rich media solutions such as those offered by Apple, AdMob, and Medialets have garnered significant industry attention over the past year, but it appears most marketers still rely largely on web inventory for their mobile campaigns.

“Mobile web has been around longer, and there’s a lot more inventory there than in-app,” Joe Laszlo, deputy director of the IAB’s Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence told ClickZ News. “In reality, the amount of in-app inventory out there maybe doesn’t quite match marketers’ and agencies’ desire for it, and mobile Web metrics are sometimes a little more robust,” he added.

According to Laszlo that pattern is shifting, however, and he predicted a very different landscape in eight to 12 months. “I think we’ll see the same number of marketers investing in mobile web, but we will probably see a far higher number of in-app buys,” he said, suggesting “a lot of marketer excitement” will help drive that shift.

A large portion of that spend will be directed at smartphones, the research suggested, with 83 percent of respondents describing those devices as medium high or high priority in terms of targeting. Meanwhile, 62 percent of those polled said they viewed tablet devices as important, while feature phones, eBooks and connected games consoles were viewed less essential.

Laszlo described the lower demand for tablet-based inventory as “excitement crashing into reality,” suggesting their lack of scale continues to deter some marketers. “Tablets present a phenomenal opportunity to deliver a great experience, but they’re still relatively scarce,” he said. “That forces marketers and agencies to shift their priorities away from tablets and towards smartphones.”

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