February 15, 2011 | by Michael Heller
As of October and November of last year, Millennial Media reported that Android and iOS were tied in ad impression share at about 38% each. By December, Android had pulled ahead with 46% to iOS’s 32%. Now, Millennial Media is reporting that in Januray iOS had an ad impression share of 28%, compared to Android’s 54%. The trouble is – what do these numbers actually mean?
First, we have to keep in mind that these are ad impressions, not clicks, click rate, or even cost per click. Second, these stats are based on results from Millennial Media’s (MM) ad network, which has been losing ground to Google/Admob and Apple/Quattro. MM is third in mobile advertising with 6.8% of the market in 2010. That is an increase from 2009, but it is still a smaller network, and therefore a smaller sample size.
The strange thing about the research is that while Android users command a 54% share in mobile ad impressions, Android was 4th in global market share ranked by web usage. There could be two explanations for this divide:
- Android users are on the web longer. This means that although there are fewer devices in the wild and accessing the web, those who are on the web browse longer, and therefore see more ads.
- There are far more ads in Android apps.
Option 2 seems like the reason why the split would be so much wider. Android and iOS are heavily app-based systems, and so have far more app usage than other platforms. Most statistics have the Android market at over 60% free apps, whereas the average on other platforms is under 30% free apps. So, Android has far more free apps, which means more ad-supported apps, and more mobile ad impressions.
The trouble is that ad impression numbers are only a part of the ad ecosystem. We would need the ad networks to release data on clicks or even the CPM (cost per thousand impressions) data. Android may be winning in the war for impressions, but CPM can be a great equalizer when it comes to actual revenue.