Mary Meeker, partner at VC firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, presented her annual report on Internet Trends at the Code Conference on May 28th. Among the leading trends was the mobile web monetization gap- the growing gap between time spent in the mobile web and the revenue that it generates.
Today, 25% of global Internet traffic usage comes from mobile - or more simply put - one quarter of all page views on the Internet are accessed via mobile devices. This figure represents sharp growth from last year's 15% mobile web usage, and 10% in 2012.
Mobile is here and that's clear. But until now, advertising dollars have not kept pace, causing difficulty for publishers to monetize their mobile web traffic. Mobile represents 20% of time spent in media, but only 4% of advertising spend, a small percentage of the total advertising pie. Thus, publishers need to invest time, money, and most important - focus - in order to leverage the opportunity from their mobile audience, and here are a few tips and strategies to do so:
Optimize your site for a full mobile experience
In a Google study, 72% of respondents stated that mobile optimized sites were important to them. Yet, at the same time, only 27% of leading brands have such sites, and overall, less than a third of all websites have responsive versions. With smartphone usage and mobile web traffic continuing to increase, visitors expect a user experience that is consistent across all of their devices - PC, tablet, or smartphone. In the early stages of mobile usage, sites were 'shoehorned' - the industry term for just taking the desktop version and compacting it to fit the mobile screen size - but today, it is clear that a complete mobile user experience has to be created, with a comprehensive single stream, touch-based design.
While advertising on the desktop is a 'wild west' of ad units, placements, and formats, the mobile device is limited in space and thus in order to ensure a clearer, more effective ad view, ads should be placed as part of the responsive site stream, adapting to be part of the overall UX and content flow.
Unique Ad Sizes and formats
Mobile presents a unique opportunity to create a clear flow of content, within one stream, as part of the 'thumb-scroll'. Thus, ad sizes and formats should be flexible in order to adapt to this new experience. While on the "PC-web", ad formats were standardized over time, in the mobile ecosystem, flexibility in size, format, and display, can lead to a smoother flow of events, making the ad seem to become part of the content on the page.
Tie into mobile trends
The mobile ecosystem is in its early stages, evolving and changing rapidly. Usage trends are very important to follow when devising a mobile strategy - what content do people consume on their mobile devices, how do they spend their time, what are their browsing habits? For example, today, over 80% of time spent on mobile devices is spent using Apps, and in 2016, it is expected that over 300 billion apps will be downloaded. This presents a huge opportunity, and finding a way to tie into the expanding app industry, be it for distribution or monetization, be it within the in-app or within mobile web environments, should be front and center in all mobile strategies.
This is perhaps the most important tip when putting together a mobile strategy. 2014 marks the first full year that mobile devices will account for over 50% of all internet usage, and as mentioned above, today, most publishers have a huge monetization gap between the amount of traffic they have via mobile devices, and the amount of revenue this traffic generates. This gap will continue to grow as more traffic moves to mobile, unless publishers understand that this is no longer a niche part of their business, but rather a significant portion of their revenue potential. Publishers need to change the frame of mind, placing mobile first when thinking how to build their business and monetize their traffic.