“Re-bunking” Debunked Mobile Myths

As a blogger, I appreciate how Google and Yahoo report earnings within days of one another. This week, though, I turn my attention to this article on AdExchanger, a rich source of information on the digital advertising market, that seeks to debunk three mobile myths. It’s a good read, even though I disagree with the writer, Steve Goldberg of EmpiricalMedia, on two.

I’m therefore going to try to “re-bunk” them.

Let me preface this by admitting that I really wanted to agree with him because like me, Goldberg is an optimist about the mobile economy. He wants us to know that the industry is stronger than we give it credit for being. I agree. I just wouldn’t cite two of his myths as evidence to that effect.

The Meeker Myth debunked: Here, Goldberg takes issue with the findings of Mary Meeker, who compares the time we spend with media to the amount of money advertisers invest in that media. Her work shows a massive gap between time spent on mobile and mobile advertising dollars. Goldberg points out that much of that is a result of users spending time in utility apps, e.g. banking or airlines, that are ill-suited to support advertising. He writes, “The analogy would be if C-Span and PBS were the dominant, most-watched networks on television and still did not sell advertising. That would skew the numbers to a great degree.” He concludes that we shouldn’t worry too much about Meeker’s gap.

The Meeker Myth re-bunked: There are a couple of flaws in this thinking. First, as the graphic in this story illustrates, utilities aren’t that popular, commanding only eight percent of time spent on mobile. Instead, we know that games and social media apps are more much popular, and they already have become viable ad environments. Second, if Goldberg’s TV analogy were true, we’d see advertisers flock to these programs in ways that each show could accommodate, e.g. underwriting and sponsorships. If utility apps were as dominant as Goldberg suggests, mobile marketers would figure out how to incorporate ads in ways that are similarly digestible.

The Location Myth debunked: Leveraging users’ locations is hard work. Goldberg recognizes the challenges when he writes, “The probability that a user is reading your newspaper while walking into a mall is too low to pursue that budget much less take that campaign.”

The Location Myth re-bunked: I can envision use cases that newspapers and other media companies should consider instead of the mall. A commuter culture like the kind that lives in the suburbs of New York City almost certainly drives spikes in usage of media apps and websites during train rides to and from work. What better place to advertise restaurants for an upcoming meal than around Grand Central, Penn Station, and every station along Metro North? On Thursdays and Fridays, I’d want to grab my share of movie studio advertising dollars to promote films my readers may want to watch over the weekend.

In conclusion, I think Mary Meeker is onto something that we, as an industry, need to solve, and I think location ads are a more appealing domain. What do you think? Give Goldberg’s story a read and share your views.

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