We are in the post-PC era, and soon billions of consumers will be carrying around Internet-connected mobile devices for up to 16 hours a day. Mobile audiences have exploded as a result.
Millenial Media, a big mobile ad network, announced its acquisition of another mobile ad network, Jumptap, earlier this week. Consolidation is finally happening in the mobile ad world.
So, mobile advertising will be a bonanza, right? Not necessarily. It has been a bit slow off the ground, and its growth trajectory is still not clear cut. It’s still a Wild West. Part of the reason is that the mobile ad ecosystem is not as standardized and seamless as the desktop ecosystem. In mobile advertising, the rules of the road change with different combinations of device, wireless operator, and operating system.
In a recent report from BI Intelligence on, we explain the complexities and fractures of the ecosystem. We specifically examine the central and dynamic roles played by mobile ad networks, demand side platforms, mobile ad exchanges, real-time bidding, agencies, brands, and new companies hoping to upend the traditional banner ad.
Take look at this infographic from our report:
Mobile lacks the technical consensus that enables ad targeting, delivery, and measurement to work fairly seamlessly across the desktop world. As the mobile ad industry matures it will likely become more streamlined and simple, but for now there are innumerable actors interacting with one another and attempting to find a niche.
Here’s an overview of some of the major players in the ecosystem:
- Mobile ad networks: Mobile ad networks like Millenial Media aggregate advertising inventory and match it with advertisers, much as online ad networks do. Networks soak up ad inventory, analyse its potential, and sell it by matching it to advertisers’ needs. Where networks differentiate is in value-added services, such as aggregating buying power to strike better deals, or improve targeting.
- Mobile ad exchanges: Exchanges automate many parts of the mobile ad process, and can connect publishers with multiple ad networks. Ad exchanges are primarily supply-facing at the moment, and have relatively few interactions with mobile ad agencies (even less so with brands).
- Natives: Other companies are emerging that don’t neatly fit the established categories. They resemble ad networks in that they connect advertisers with publishers’ inventory, but they express disdain for the traditional mobile advertising model.These companies are trying to find a native approach to mobile advertising that will break through consumers’ apparent disdain for mobile ads. We call them “the natives.”