Mobile Advertisers Predict 35 Percent Increase in 2012

Advertisers and agency executives participating in Digiday’s semi-annual Mobile State of the Industry survey say they plan to increase their mobile marketing spending by an average of 35 percent in 2012. Some 79 percent of this group — a slight decrease from the January pool — say they engage in mobile advertising, but mobile’s contribution to the marketing mix remains small.

For nearly 70 percent of 243 advertisers and agency respondents, mobile advertising still represents less than 5 percent of their total marketing budget, while 18 percent of advertisers say that number has reached double digits. In all, 611 advertising, marketing, publishing and technology professionals participated in the survey, which was conducted in August and sponsored by Jumptap, a mobile advertising network.

Among other advertising highlights:

  • Of those advertisers and agencies who engage in mobile advertising, 66 percent began mobile efforts in just the past two years.
  • More than a third of advertisers and agencies (37 percent) are spending more now per mobile campaign than six months ago, while a nearly equal number (36 percent) say their campaigns run around the same dollar amount.
  • Advertisers and agencies ranked targeting and reach as the most important attributes of a mobile marketing partner in a list that included ROI, price, creative, reputation, tools and customer service. Geographic advertising and contextual advertising lead among common targeting techniques.
  • Just over half of advertisers and agencies polled – 52 percent of respondents – cited “effectively targeting audiences” as their number-one pain point in mobile advertising.
  • Despite this heavy emphasis on reaching the right audience at the right time, mobile marketers are equally likely to measure the success of a mobile ad campaign on the basis of engagement vs. cost per user acquisition.
  • More advertisers and agencies buy mobile through ad networks than via any other resource, including direct from publishers and exchanges (46 percent vs. 30 percent directly from publishers, 12 percent from exchanges and 12 percent via “other” means.)
  • Agencies are even more likely to patronize mobile ad networks. Some 82 percent say they’ve used a mobile network vs. 62 percent for advertisers. Both were equally likely to have developed a mobile app (63 percent of agencies and 62 percent of advertisers, respectively.) That number dropped precipitously when they were asked if they had developed an iPad app (32 percent of agencies and 39 percent of advertisers said they had.) Agencies clearly excel as the place to go for building and maintaining a mobile Web site; 71 percent of agencies do this on behalf of their clients, while just under half of advertisers (48 percent) say they’ve done this.

Overall, among those marketers who do participate in mobile advertising, average annual spending by advertisers ranged nearly 25 percent higher than that of agencies on behalf of the average client. The range of spending for participating advertisers was between $500 and $3 million, with $3 million as the most popular answer, yielding an average of $842,000 for the group. Agency execs said their per-client average spending was equally broad – ranging from $50 to $26 million – with $200,000 being the most popular response for an average client spend of $668,000.

In response to: “Is the price that you’re willing to pay to reach mobile users higher or lower than your per-customer acquisition cost in other digital media?” the most popular answer among angencies was “higher” at 34.4 percent. An equal number of advertisers responded “higher” and “same” (28.6 percent).

Mobile Pubs Lean Heavily on In-House Sales

In a group of 232 publishers, 77 percent said they engage in mobile publishing or have developed mobile campaigns for an advertiser. Of those, a third described themselves as either multimedia, Internet or mobile publishers. An equal number — 76 percent — said they’ve developed either a mobile website or mobile apps.

Interestingly, they seem more bullish than advertisers with respect to tablets as an ad vehicle; nearly half (47 percent) say they’ve offered advertising services via a tablet platform. An equal number – 30 percent – offer mobile video as offer mobile text advertising. As with their advertising counterparts, however, they’re relative newcomers to the medium: 57 percent of mobile publishers have been at it for two years or less. Just over half (51 percent) say their efforts are ad supported.

Just under 30 percent say they’ve been able to sell more than half their mobile ad inventory, but 72 percent say that advertising will experience more revenue growth than app sales or in-app purchases in the coming year. And 55 percent say mobile represents a higher proportion of their digital revenue than it did six months ago. (Only 8.5 percent say this proportion declined.)

They’re working hard to monetize mobile as a separate channel; more than 66 percent offer this channel to advertisers as a separate ad buy, while only 27 percent include it as a “value-added” bonus. A significant minority remain skeptical of networks; 40 percent of respondents say they don’t participate in either a mobile network or an exchange to help them sell their mobile inventory. Among those who do patronize a network, Google was the most popular, with participation of 68 percent of mobile publishers who use networks. Asked how they sell mobile ads, 91 percent said via an internal sales team.

Asked to describe the most significant change in mobile advertising in the last six months, one publisher commented, “It is now discussed as integral to the overall media mix, rather than a separate piece that is bolted on,” while another cited the “greater perception that mobile is a need, not a fun thing to try.”

Results of the study will be released at 10:45 in a presentation at Digiday Mobile at the Marriott Marquis in New York’s Time Square, and can be either streamed live or downloaded from Digiday’s knowledge base, DM2Pro.com.

Sign up to get the day’s top stories at 6am eastern.