Mobile Diary: successful online ads and other imaginary creatures

If you’re looking for an enjoyable read, I recommend The Ad Contrarian, a blog about all things advertising from ad industry veteran Bob Hoffman. This is a great place to read contrarian opinions about online and mobile advertising, and the tendency of advertisers and other marketing types to focus on “youth” markets instead of other demographics (who may have more money to spend).

Here’s a recent post about the lack of real data about any aspect of online advertising. I thought about this after checking out a new feature in Facebook that claims to allow you to opt out of some targeted ads on that service. FB links you to a service (still in beta) that lets you see which companies use behavioral techniques to target ads to you, and opt out of those services.

The fun part for me, especially in the context of the above article (and the related Slate piece it quotes) was visiting the web sites of a bunch of behavioral advertising companies, and seeing how they spin their services and technologies. There seem to be an awful lot of smart (or at least well-educated) people out there applying all sorts of sophisticated computer models to delivering the right ad to you at the right time, all in hopes of increasing click-through rates from negligible to almost-negligible (as I remember, one company trumpeted its success in increasing CTR to 0.42%).

I suppose that as an advertiser, you have to spend your budget on something, but it’s amazing to see how little benefit seems to come from all that analysis.


Mobile diary: apps are big, but maybe not a business

Interesting juxtaposition of stories in today’s Mobile World Live: Apps edition from the GSMA:
apps businessEricsson reports that mobile app usage has a huge impact on the performance of their networks, at the same time as Zynga is shutting down their mobile app subsidiary OMGPOP, as part of their effort to save their business. In other words, lots of people are using lots of apps, but that activity isn’t generating much money for the people who write them.

Put that together with the latest VisionMobile report on developer revenue, and it becomes clear that mobile apps aren’t a great business in themselves. This is nothing new; the data have showed for a while that the mobile app business is like the music business. Most developers (and musicians) don’t make enough money from that activity to live on, but that doesn’t stop them from writing and distributing apps (or for musicians, playing in bars and coffee shops).