Twitter's $250 million purchase of ad-inventory monitoring software company MoPub Inc. signals a new era in mobile advertising, according to analysts and marketers.
After years of uneven development, social sites such as Twitter and Facebook have finally hit upon a successful strategy with mobile advertising: sponsored posts. By offering up their content streams to mobile advertisers through sponsored content, both social media giants have reportedly hit pay dirt.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Twitter is currently making more money selling mobile than desktop ads. Similarly, in this year's second quarter Facebook's mobile ads accounted for 42% of its revenue, according to TechCrunch.
LinkedIn, which launched sponsored posts this summer, is a latecomer to mobile ads. But Ben Fu, a partner and investor in social media at venture capital company Next World Capital, expects its combination of intense targeting and business focus will soon make it a serious player in mobile advertising, especially on the b-to-b side.
“LinkedIn's targeting is extremely good,” Fu said. “They haven't focused as much on the sponsored side yet, but they'll get there. And while total impressions are probably lower, I predict its monetization will be much better.”
How this plays out for b-to-b advertisers remains to be seen, as mobile advertising has been growing rapidly. eMarketer's most recent forecast predicted $8.51 billion in mobile ad spending this year and BtoB's “Emerging Trends in B2B Social Marketing” report found that marketers expect to increase their advertising across the major social channels.
Yet there are still obstacles for many marketers, said Julie Brodsky, a marketing strategist at branding and marketing agency DeSantis Breindel, New York.
“We haven't had too many clients asking about mobile social media advertising,” she said. “With everything in the social mobile realm, b-to-b marketers will probably wait a little before jumping in. They'll want to see how b-to-c is using it and how to test it and measure it.”
There's also the issue of mobile optimization on websites themselves, Brodsky said. Many b-to-b marketers have dedicated mobile sites, but widespread conversion to mobile-responsive Web design is proving to be a harder transition.
“If you have a mobile ad, where are you driving that visitor?” Brodsky said. “If your site isn't mobile-optimized, you're wasting that.”
In the future, it seems likely that mobile will play an increasingly important function in social advertising, especially as the market continues to organize and the remaining technological hurdles are overcome.
“On mobile, cracking the code means matching identities to mobile devices,” Fu said. “Social sites own their users while they're on site. But if they're able to see users beyond their own properties, they'll be able to deliver much better value.
“That's what this acquisition by Twitter is all about,” he said. “We're only going to see more things happening with targeting and tracking on the b-to-b side.”