What is in the data? Leveraging Mobile Ad Network Data

What is in the data? Leveraging Mobile Ad Network Data

AdMob, one of the world’s leading mobile advertising networks, recently released the September 2007 AdMob Network Metrics Report (AdMob 2007).  This report provides details on mobile advertisement impressions generated through the AdMob global mobile advertising network.  Key metrics derived from this report include 1) where their traffic is coming from and 2) which mobile handsets are generating this traffic.  Why is this data important?  Both these figures are key forensic data points for understanding the nature and changing the landscape of consumer mobile services adoption.  While, admittedly, the AdMob data cannot be assumed to be a representative sample of all mobile usage around the world, it can, however, be used as a compass of market movement and is useful to look at as long as one keeps some margin of error in mind when attempting to generalize the data for thoughts toward broader market implications.

In looking at the AdMob data we find a few key data points, including ad impressions broken down by country:

  • North America: 44.2%
  • Asia: 22.3%
  • Western Europe: 9.3%

The data supports the industries assumption that the U.S. market is a relatively important market to go after, but it also shows Asia to be an increasingly important market as well.  Delving into the data a bit deeper, for the month of Sept. 2007, we see that 42.2% of AdMob impressions came from the U.S., 10% from India, 6.9% from South Africa, 5.4% from the United Kingdom, 3.9% from Indonesia and all other countries falling into the 2% and below range.  Again, important data.

Additionally, important data points from the AdMob report include handsets metrics, which AdMob derives by detecting and reading the User Agent Profile (UA Prof.) from the mobile handset when the mobile handset pulls the ad form AdMob’s network. Below are lists of the top 10 mobile handsets detected on the AdMob ad network for the month of Sept. 2007.  The top 10 handsets worldwide represent 19.9% of the market, while in the United States they represent 37.2%.  Motorola and RIM take the first four slots in both the worldwide and U.S. cases.  It is also interesting to note that Samsung is playing a more prominent role in the United States than it is worldwide, and Nokia does not even make the U.S. list, while Sanyo, LG, and Danger do not make the worldwide list. 

Providing a good customer experience on the mobile phone is critical to developing and maintaining consumer adoption and acceptance of one’s mobile services.  Therefore, leveraging data like that provided by AdMob is helpful, since this data can assist a solution provider in understanding which handsets to focus on first when tailoring and testing its mobile services to serve its target market.  For instance, in the U.S., one’s mobile solutions better work on Razrs and Blackberries or you’ll have a problem.  

Knowing the handset model is not enough, however, to ensure you’ll have a great service.  In addition to knowing what handset a consumer has, it is also important to know the capabilities of the handset.  Some phones, especially SmartPhones, can have a tremendous number of features.  Handset functionality can be derived from a number of sources, including handset manufactures, carriers, open source initiatives like WUFL, as well as from commercial sources like Mobile Research.  Many companies also support extensive internal testing groups to develop their own phone profile databases as well as to refine the information derived from the sources named above.  Finally, a number of industry associations, such s the Mobile Marketing Association, dotMobi Advisory Group and others are looking into developing device profile initiatives.  Taking video as an example service to explain this concept, one can derive some interesting knowledge from the AdMob report.  Both static download and play as well as streaming video models for serving video are hot topics in the industry right now and the AdMob data provides some helpful insight as to whether or not the market is ready for video services.  According to the AdMob report 52.7% of mobile handsets that pull an AdMob ad support download and play video (compared to worldwide numbers of 59.2%) while 15.8% of United States subscriber’s phones support streaming video, which is significantly lower than worldwide penetration of 35.6%.   These numbers are up significantly from last year in the United States; in 2006 only 32% or less of phones supported download and play video and streaming video was far less than what it is today.  So, these numbers are encouraging for those services wishing to offer video. 

Surprisingly, however, even if you know what phones people use and the features the phone supports, this will not guarantee market acceptance and applicability of your service.  For example, only about 5% of the market consumes Video on their phone with any regularity (Steele 2007).  Moreover, in order for video services to work a consumer must have an active data plan with their phone subscription, not just a data capable phone, and today only about 60% of consumers have a data plan, although this number is increasing rapidly (Becker 2007). 

Consumers actually report using very few features of their phone. For instance, the 2006 MMA Attitudes and Usage Study reports that consumers on average use only 4.8 features of their phone, with the top four features being Call waiting, Text Messaging, Speaker Phone, and hands free (MMA 2006). Simply because the phone supports a certain function, does not mean that the service is ready for prime time or mass market channels.  There are a number of key variables to consider when launching a mass market service, such as (Becker 2007):

  • Interoperability, a term used to designate whether or not a service can work across carrier networks (or even on a particular network), e.g. can consumer’s easily share video clips to name just one example or can they view a streaming video clip to name another.   Video still has many interoperability issues. For example, T-Mobile in the United States has not enabled off-portal video streaming, and most Verizon Wireless phones do not support clickable links in a text message (a common method of content propagation), although this is changing with many of the latest Verizon Wireless handset supporting this feature.
  • On-deck Vs. Off-deck support, will the service only work form the carrier’s branded portal (On-deck) or will the service work throughout the rest of the ecosystem, such as from a mobile-enhanced TV show, newspaper, magazine, web site, IVR session, mobile Internet site, outdoor media, etc.
  • Standards & Guidelines, do industry standard, guidelines, and best practices exists, such as those published by the Mobile Marketing Association, to help regulate the industry.
  • Business models, have the business models matured across all spheres of the ecosystem in order for all those providing values within the solution value chain/cluster to be in a position to maintain a viable business.
  • Consumer adoption/acceptance, has consumer adoption and acceptance reached a critical mass for a particular solution, moreover, have consumers adopted/accepted the necessary periphery services required to sustain the services in question.  For instance, in order to use mobile data services, like video, consumers must have first activated and chosen a data plan (i.e. metered vs. unlimited) as noted above.
  • Handset adoption, as discussed above, consumers must have a handset capable of supporting the application in question.  On average consumers change their handset every 18~36 months; therefore, even if we ignore all the other variables above, if a service requires a handset with a particular software or hardware feature that has just been released it may take some time for that handset to reach critical mass in the market for the service to even have the chance of being mass-market applicable (obviously there are a number of variables that can and will affect this construct).

The following image shows a current mapping of key mobile marketing channels and services and where they are aligned with the above variables.  In order for an item to be “mass market,” it must have a full market penetration of all the above variables if it does not then if falls somewhere along the scale to the left of mass-market. Voice and SMS services are very much in line with the mass market construct, while mobile internet is on the low end of mass market and many the other up and coming mobile services are still within niche market classifications since they are not fully mature within one or more of the variable constructs listed above.

Figure 1: Sample mobile services maturing mapping

The mobile market is maturing at a rapid pace, and data from sources like AdMob is incredibly valuable.  As noted, however, the AdMob data is specific to AdMob, meaning these numbers are a by product of the company size, expansion plans, etc., and not necessarily representative of the entire industry.  However, when one triangulates the AdMob data with other industry reports one finds that the AdMob data is in accordance with general industry trends and thus going forward may be a useful indicator for general market movement.  Leveraging the data and operationalizing this data with the constructs above is critical for services success.  For additional references of key resources of mobile industry data see the Mobile Marketing Resources Article at http://blog.iloopmobile.com. .


AdMob Network Metrics. (2007, September). AdMob. Retrieved 10/17/07, from http://www.admob.com: www.admob.com/metrics.

Becker, M. (ILoop Mobile/EVP, Business Development). (2007, 12/October). Understanding Mobile Marketing & the Options. In Direct Marketing Association 2007 Pre-Conference: Intensive Mobile Marketing Workshop. Chicago, IL, McCormick Center: Mobile Marketing Association.

MMA 2006 Mobile Attitude & Usage Study ( Metrics Committee, Ed.). Denver, Co.: Mobile Marketing Association. (2006).

Steele, A. (Starcom/Vice President, Director). (2007, 13/October). Activating the Mobile Platform. In Direct Marketing Association 2007 Pre-Conference: Intensive Mobile Marketing Workshop. Chicago, IL, McCormick Center: Mobile Marketing Association.

Title Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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Michael Becker is an intentionally recognized identity & personal information management solutions strategic advisor, speaker, entrepreneur, and academic. He advises companies on personal information economy business strategy, product development, business development, and sales & marketing strategies. He also represents them at leading trade groups, including the Mobile Ecosystem Forum. Michael is an advisor to Assurant, Predii, Privowny, and Phoji. He is the co-author of Mobile Marketing for Dummies and a number of other books and articles related to mobile marketing, identity, and personal information management. He is on the faculty of marketing of the Association of National Advertisers and National University. A serial entrepreneur, Michael founded Identity Praxis, co-founded mCordis and The Connected Marketer Institute, was a founding member of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), and was on the MMA board of directors for ten years and was MMA’s North American Managing Director for three years. In 2004, Michael co-founded iLoop Mobile, a leading messaging solutions provider. In 2014, Michael was awarded the 2014 Marketing EDGE Edward Mayer Education Leadership Award for his commitment to marketing education.


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