Three Trends To Watch In Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising continues to experience rapid change as the industry grows and scales.

Recently, we spoke with Elain Szu, director of marketing at MoPub, to better understand the underlying trends driving the market. MoPub is a mobile ad server that lets app publishers manage their ad inventory.

MoPub enables ad network mediation for publishers and also operates a real-time bidding (RTB) ad exchange.

MoPub provided us with data from their third quarter report, “Mobile Advertising: Marketplace Report.” Here’s what we learned:

  • Real-time bidding continues to grow.
  • The eCPM gap between platforms is closing.
  • Ad format data hints that brand spend may finally be wading into mobile.     

(For an overview of the mobile advertising market and the challenges it faces, please read part one and two of our mobile advertising report.)

Real-time bidding. The “win rate” on MoPub’s real-time bidding exchange rose 162 per cent in the third quarter. MoPub defines the win rate as the share of real-time auctions with winning bids. Szu couldn’t give  figures for the overall win rate, but she assured us that the 162 per cent increase was from a significant base.

As we discussed in our mobile advertising overview, RTB is still a relatively small portion of the mobile ad market, but is expected to make huge strides in the next few years because it generally offers greater transparency and efficiency.    

rtb win rate

eCPMs by platform. The gap in eCPMs between iOS and Android closed in the third quarter. Android eCPMs rose 26 per cent in the third quarter, while iOS eCPMs were flat. iOS eCPMs are propped up by the iPad, which has much higher eCPMs than the iPhone.

As we’ve argued before, the platform wars don’t translate neatly into mobile advertising. Advertisers primarily want to reach an audience, regardless of platform. The eCPM gap isn’t a good starting point to delineate the relative advantages and disadvantages of the respective platforms.

Suz agreed, “Largely, [the gap] has been perception.”

We also learned why eCPMs can differ so wildly across the various ad networks’ and exchanges’ quarterly mobile ad market reports. Szu told us that ad networks’ eCPMs often reflect their role mediating between agencies and publishers. Ad networks strike a deal to provide a block of impressions to agencies, and pay out publishers from that contract. In other words, when networks buy from publishers it doesn’t necessarily reflect a market price, shaped by supply and demand from multiple bidders.      

Platform eCPM
ecpms by tablet and smartphone

Is brand spend beginning to flow? MoPub’s ad format data included a surprise. The most traditional, and most scorned, ad formats — the banner and the medium rectangle — saw the biggest eCPM increases in in the third quarter.

Szu’s theory is that this could indicate that more traditional media buyers, accustomed to running desktop campaigns, are entering the mobile ad market and using the formats with which they are most familiar.  

ad format ecpm

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