2015’s Momentous Mobile Milestones

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By Evan Krauss, VP, Publisher Development

As we reflect on the changes and trends from 2015, it’s clear that it has been a transformative year for the media industry. In addition to the rise in private marketplaces and video capabilities, maturity in mobile took center stage. 2015 saw significant strides for the smartphones and mobile devices we carry everywhere, with U.S. adults spending an average of 2 hours and 54 minutes per day on these devices, according to eMarketer. As we enter 2016, we outlined three major developments from last year that indicate mobile’s continued ascension toward consumer and media dominance:

Major Media Companies Expanded Into Mobile

Although M&A activity in the ad tech industry wasn’t as robust in 2015 as it was in 2014, a clear trend toward mobile expansion emerged throughout the year: In April, WPP acquired mobile ad platform Medialets; in May, Sizmek expanded further into mobile with its acquisition of mobile DSP StrikeAd; and in September, AOL bought mobile ad platform Millennial Media. But perhaps the year’s biggest was Verizon’s $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL, which is evidence of the more specific cross-platform video trend. Following the acquisition, Verizon and AOL released a new mobile video service called go90, which has high hopes of transforming the traditional TV model, from both a content and advertising perspective.  Services like go90 are largely aimed at the Millennial demographic.

Major media companies are also shifting gears to refocus on mobile in order to reach younger audiences. Nielsen’s Comparable Metrics Report revealed that among 18-34 year-olds, the use of smartphones, tablets and OTT devices increased by more than 25 percent in May 2015, year-over-year.  In August 2015, NBCUniversal invested $200 Million in Vox Media, which has 42M monthly mobile unique visitors (2X more than its desktop monthly UVs), and $200 Million in Buzzfeed, which has 59M monthly mobile unique visitors (nearly 4X more than desktop UVs), according to comScore.

Mobile Surpassed Desktop in Holiday Online Shopping

Black Friday has traditionally been the official kickoff for holiday season shopping, where consumers line up outside of stores as early as midnight on Thanksgiving night. The emergence of e-commerce and Cyber Monday triggered a shift in these consumer activities, causing lighter in-store crowds and heavier website traffic. As more consumers learned that they could complete their holiday shopping from the comfort of their homes, e-commerce leading up to and following Thanksgiving Day exploded. And this year, for the first time, according to data from HookLogic, more than two-thirds of holiday season e-commerce traffic came from smartphones and tablets. Also, according to IBM, mobile accounted for 60 percent of online traffic on Thanksgiving and 54 percent on Black Friday. In terms of sales, Black Friday e-commerce sales were up 10 percent, year-over-year, according to comScore, while, e-commerce sales from mobile on Black Friday were up nearly 30 percent, year-over-year, according to IBM.

Mary Meeker’s “Mobile Advertising Gap” Closed

Each year, Mary Meeker releases her Internet Trends Report that takes us through the key statistics and developments that define the current state of the industry. Last year, she identified the mobile advertising gap – the gap between consumer time spent with mobile and mobile advertising spend. She found that this gap represents a $13 billion potential ad spend opportunity. In October 2015, PubMatic’s inaugural Quarterly Mobile Index for Q3 2015 found that, from a programmatic perspective, that gap had closed. In fact, mobile CPMs were 34 percent higher than desktop CPMs. Major advancements around technical infrastructure, targeting capabilities and customer experience contributed to this development.

Looking to the year ahead, PubMatic is confident that mobile will continue its ascendance as the future platform for media consumption and advertising. Gazing into the future, for both consumers and the digital advertising industry, mobile will become more than just a component of digital—it will be digital.

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