Well, not yet, but signs look good. Out of the more than 200 million American mobile subscribers 13 years or older, 11 million watched TV or video on their phone in the three months ending in July, according to ComScore. Keep in mind, those numbers include YouTube views as well as downloaded shows. Fewer than 3 million watched broadcast TV on their phones in that period, though that audience is growing as more phones with high-resolution screens and larger-format devices, like iPad, come online.
Restrictive data networks will remain a hurdle for mobile video as streaming video on cellular data networks is often slow or restricted to Wi-Fi streaming only. But as the midsize screen gains ground -- iPad's expected to be 2010's Tickle Me Elmo during the holiday season, and Android tablets will hit the market soon -- the question is: Which mobile device will grab TV viewers? Both ABC Network and Netflix launched early video iPad apps that have so far been downloaded millions of times.
What kind of traffic do the biggest websites get from mobile?
It's a good question that's still tough to answer. While the wired web enjoys third-party measurement from the likes of Nielsen and ComScore, we're just not there yet in mobile. There are tools to measure visits and usage within individual apps and mobile websites, but it's going to take coordinated efforts from carriers for the data we're used to online in mobile. ComScore does not yet release mobile-website traffic and Nielsen releases numbers based on sampling, not meters. While mobile-measurement startup Ground Truth can rank the top-visited mobile sites, it only releases market share, not hard visitor counts.
Do the rules of the wired web still apply to mobile?
Some things haven't changed in mobile: Google still leads as the most-visited site in mobile and is the primary starting point for users on their paths to other mobile sites, according to Michael Libes, Ground Truth founder and chief technology officer. According to Nielsen's sampling, Google sites have 46 million U.S. unique visitors on the mobile web in July -- that's almost 16% of all mobile subscribers. We also know social networking accounts for most mobile-web traffic. "In the mobile web, social networking dominates by far in terms of unique users and page views," said Mr. Libes. "Social networking is about half of everything done on the mobile web." But it's not just the usual social-networking players like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Flickr. While Facebook and MySpace account for the majority of traffic, we see an entirely new suite of mobile-only brands like FunForMobile, MocoSpace and Myxer. What's more, properties that make ComScore's list of top 10 web properties like Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL don't show up on Ground Truth's mobile-web-leaders list. Those online brands still draw mobile audiences in the millions. Yahoo sites had 39 million mobile uniques in July, MSN properties nearly 26 million, and AOL had almost 21 million, according to Nielsen.
Are apps still relevant?
Yes, Apple's App Store at more than 225,000 apps and growing, and more developers are turning to Google's mobile operating system, Android, but it remains to be seen what real value media companies can find in the app economy. By usage numbers, apps are largely led by gaming and utility. According to Nielsen, gaming apps are the most popular, followed by weather, maps and search, and social networking. Facebook is the most popular individual app on iPhone and BlackBerry. On Android, Facebook is No. 2, trailing Google Maps -- this app, the Weather Channel and Pandora, are leaders on all platforms. In Apple's App Store, the only media properties that make the Top 25 free, paid and top-grossing lists are Facebook, Cook's Illustrated, Groupon, Netflix, Glee and ESPN Fantasy Football. But that might just be an endorsement for the mobile web, a mobile medium that is arguably a lot less sexy than the app. Mobile websites span devices -- the same site works across iPhone, Android and Blackberries, while you'd have to develop separate apps for each of those platforms -- which results in a substantial user base on the mobile web. Top media brands are rounding out Nielsen's list of top visited mobile web brands: Weather Channel had almost 21 million uniques in July, CNN nearly 15 million, ESPN more than 12 million, Fox Interactive 10 million and Fox News 9 million.
Do the same ads work online as in mobile?
No. Creating mobile-specific creative that's separate from the desktop campaign means improved performance -- 80% increase in click-through rates and a 43% bump in conversion rate, according to Google. Mobile ads also mean different ways to target and sell ads. While big publishers sell inventory in their mobile apps, a good deal of in-app ads are sold through mobile ad networks like Millennial Media and Google's AdMob that don't let you cherrypick the apps where your ads will run. With an ecosphere ruled by developers whose operations may not be big enough to to support a sales staff, ad networks provide targeting by demographics, handsets and verticals, but not necessarily specific content.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR|
Kunur Patel covers agencies for Ad Age.