This is the year mobile advertising will break out. Remember reading that in December of last year?
Do you remember also reading it in December of 2008? And 2007? And 2006?
Like a stopped clock, the mobile advertising cheerleaders will eventually be right. Some year mobile will indeed break out.
Look at the history of some of the forecasters.
At the end of 2006, eMarketer said U.S. mobile advertising would reach $4.8 billion by 2011. In April 2008, it came up with $6.5 billion by 2012. In September 2009, it said $1.1 billion for 2012. Whoa - $5 billion vaporized.
In September 2007, Kelsey forecast $1.4 billion in U.S. mobile advertising by 2012. A month later Forrester predicted $2.8 billion. By February 2009 Kelsey had upped its own figure to $2.26 billion.
[For context, online advertising will be roughly $30 billion in 2012.]
And my favorite - Thomson Financial, which in late 2007 predicted Google’s 2009 mobile ad revenue would be an exacting $21.31 billion. (Google’s TOTAL revenues ended 2009 at $23.65 billion. Oops.)
Two drivers to this nonsense. One is the growth in smartphone sales, which creates web-connected searchers and display-ad viewers. Yet smartphone penetration is well south of 25% of all cell users.
The second driver is the oft-reported success with a mobile campaign here and there. Yet there are also cross-campaign data that show mobile click-thru rates lower than that of online. Caveat emptor.
Year in and year out, there’s never been a survey of smartphone users showing more than 25% being “interested in receiving mobile advertising.” Worse, the bulk of smartphone users are over 25, the demographic less likely to be ad-receptive.
On top of this, mobile ad formats are compromised (permission-based SMS, lack of standards, lousy display, etc.).
The marketer's perspective? Here is an example of priorities. In Retail Systems Research’s recent survey of online retailers, only 39% ranked mobile commerce as important to driving business. It finished last, tied with social networks. (P.S. The figure jives with other surveys, which show current mobile efforts practiced by just 30% to 40% of surveyed companies.)
Yes, mobile advertising’s time will eventually come. Call me when it gets here.