Breaking Free: Mobile Predictions for 2011

In terms of raw activity, 2010 was an unprecedented year for mobile advertising. US inventory exceeded 150 billion impressions a month, some important mobile ad networks disappeared, and a handful of promising technologies emerged. For publishers, the overall theme was growth and change as many took the opportunity to switch platforms, find new network partners, and begin experimenting with mobile rich media. For the first time, the US became home to a growing number of mobile content providers generating double digit millions in ad revenue. As big as it was, we expect last year’s mobile growth and adoption rates to seem quaint compared to 2011. Traditional media companies will begin to see mobile as a profitable channel for content distribution in earnest, and we believe that will hinge on a few key trends.

The Remote Control for Our Lives
Though the promise has always been there, in 2011 mobile phones will go from being stand-alone communications devices with neat features to the remote control for our lives.

The first phenomenon driving this will be the true proliferation of the smartphone. Despite all the fanfare over the iPhone and Android, so-called ‘feature phones’ have always been more numerous. According to Nielsen, in 2011 the scale will tip the other way. As a result, a flood of new mobile sites and applications will hit the market, and publishers will need to update their products and interfaces to appeal to much broader audiences. The second phenomenon will be the ultra rapid adoption of new mobile services such as maps, social networking, and commerce (via payment chips and virtual currencies). Publishers must ensure they integrate these services where they will most benefit their users.

For mobile advertisers and publishers, all of this means a transition from a mobile stand-alone environment (mobile networks, mobile vendors, mobile integration companies, and mobile content providers) to a connected ecosystem. This combination should result in increased mobile eCPM rates, better ads, and higher fill rates.

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