Mobile advertising is a relatively small market today, according to the latest market study by ABI Research. However, over the next five years, spending on mobile display ads in the U.S. -- estimated at just under $313 million in 2010 -- will almost quadruple to exceed $1.2 billion in 2015.
ABI practice director Neil Strother says, "A survey conducted by ABI Research in February found that 28 percent of the mobile subscribers queried accessed the mobile Internet daily. This is a huge increase over the number doing so just 14 months ago, and is a powerful driver for the mobile marketing and advertising market."
Mobile display ads -- essentially similar to online banner ads -- are only one method available to aspiring mobile marketers. The others include text messaging, search advertising, Ads within applications (in-app), and video (streaming and on-demand).
While smartphone usage is a primary driver of this new and still fragmented industry (smartphone penetration in the U.S. currently stands at about 20 percent), mobile marketing's potential extends to mobile devices of all kinds.
"Marketers have increasingly been shifting budgets into mobile campaigns," Strother reports. "This became evident during our research interviews with advertising agency executives, technology vendors and mobile ad network operators, who said they have been seeing year-over-year increases of 25 to 30 percent in campaign spending."
Major high-tech firms are now getting involved, as demonstrated by Apple's acquisition of Quattro Wireless and Google's takeover of AdMob. But independent ad networks are also serving this market, companies such as Millennial Media, Jumptap, and Greystripe.
"Each of these networks is focused on a somewhat different part of the market," says Strother, "but in principal they're open to anybody with money who wants to reach a mobile audience."