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Mobile Display Ads Present Opportunity for Smaller Players

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1st half 2013 online advertising segments

Data source: IAB. Graphic © Promise Media

Search-related advertising has dominated the online environment for desktop computing for many years, but mobile may be changing that dominance.

The search format, usually in the form of text ads, made up 43 percent of total online advertising in the first half of 2013, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau.

Banner advertising came in a distant second place at 19 percent while mobile (mainly mobile search and banners) made up only 15 percent.

Those numbers looked quite a bit different in the first half of 2014.
Desktop search was 39 percent of the total or a drop of 4 percent. Banners declined from 19 to 17 percent. Mobile climbed to 23 percent.

The fact that mobile advertising climbed and took share away from desktop search, banners and other formats such as video is not a surprise.

The more interesting mobile numbers are the split between search and display advertising, which includes banners, video and rich media. That split was 51 percent to 47 percent.

Search Dominance


he split is good news for any company that doesn’t rely on search advertising for revenue, which means just about every online site with advertising on the Internet except for Google, Bing and Yahoo along with some smaller search players.

1st half 2014 online advertising segments

Data source: IAB. Graphic © Promise Media

It is not well-known that only 10 companies dominate 71 percent of total online advertising with the majority of it in search, according to the IAB. Such dominance doesn’t leave much revenue for the millions of other sites that use display advertising.

Mobile may be creating an opportunity to change that dominance by the search giants.

They of course will recognize the trend and fight to gain the same amount of mobile advertising market share that they have with desktops.

But non-search Web sites should recognize this trend as an opportunity to grab display advertising revenue while there is a chance to grab it.

Taking Action

simple way to look at creating and building an online business for mobile follows: First, build a great product; second, learn how to market that product effectively and acquire a quality audience; third, use that great product and quality audience to attract important advertisers.

Too many Web sites still don’t have a responsive or mobile-optimized version of the site. For the sake of understanding mobile and building more audience, it is critical that any site hoping to grow audience and revenue build a responsive version of it.

Once that version is launched, it is necessary to track the analytics just as carefully as tracking the desktop version to understand the audience it is attracting and make adjustments to the product.

One easy way is by watching the pages per visit. Is the PPV number for mobile lower than for desktop or tablet?

Many sites do see a lower number for mobile, and that’s a strong signal of an underdeveloped product. There is abundant evidence that a responsive site can have a PPV number just as high as desktop and laptop.

Once that number improves, bounce rate will go down, search rankings will go up and total mobile audience will climb.

The end result is a product that can be sold more easily and acquire display advertising clients.

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