x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Mobile players could profit from advertising teamwork

Lack of co-operation between he three main players in the mobile phone advertising market limits their earnings.

The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is the largest mobile industry conference in the world.
The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is the largest mobile industry conference in the world.

BARCELONA // The three main players in the mobile phone advertising market are expected to share US$7.5 billion (Dh27.54bn) of advertising revenue this year but could make even more money if they worked together, telecommunications industry executives say. The lack of co-operation between mobile phone network operators, media companies and handset makers was highlighted at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona yesterday.

Marketers want telecoms operators to provide them with data to help pinpoint customers, while operators want to become more involved in managing accounts by speaking directly to advertisers. Online advertisers, meanwhile, want operators to make mobile broadband and smartphones more affordable to drive more traffic to the Web. "Operators collaboration in this space is absolutely key," said Tim Sefton, the customer director for the UK mobile operator O2.

"There's no proper way to plan campaigns across the mobile [space]. We need to fix that. There's a limited ability to execute campaigns across networks. There's no common reporting for campaigns in click-through and there's no common pricing models and metrics." Mobile phone advertising revenues hit $530.2 million in 2008 and are expected to increase to $7.5bn this year, the technology consultancy Gartner said. The market remains a small part of the entire advertising sector, but brands are increasingly turning to mobile phone advertising.

The medium's growth has largely been driven by faster telecoms networks, the addition of affordable mobile-data plans and the increase in the number of internet-enabled phones on the market. But Russell Buckley, the vice president of global alliances for the mobile advertising company AdMob, urged operators to make their mobile internet plans even cheaper in order to get more users on the mobile Web and increase available advertising inventory.

"Once you get the inventory, then the advertisers can be persuaded," Mr Buckley said. "But at the moment, if you go to an advertiser anywhere, it's all about reach. Unless you can work a million-odd pages, they're not really interested." Throughout the week-long Mobile World Congress, telecoms operators have been pressing Google to share online advertising revenues. Google's presence in the mobile ad market could expand as it has been negotiating to buy AdMob, the largest mobile advertising platform. AdMob has sent more than 160 billion advertisements to mobile users since its launch in 2006.

Xavier Perret, the vice president for advertising solutions for France Telecom, said the operator would launch its so-called Monkey SMS-based ad platform this month in Spain, France, Egypt and Jordan. "We're launching it in those markets we're in because more people use their mobile to access the Web than on their desktops," Mr Perret said. dgeorgecosh@thenational.ae