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Native Mobile Display Ads Mean Big Bucks for Facebook

Users move from desktop to mobile, ad dollars go the same way

Facebook is now expected to earn more mobile display revenue than any other mobile publisher this year thanks to its ability—more or less—to redistribute revenue from mobile to desktop, eMarketer estimates. The social networking company is set to garner an 18.4% share of the US mobile display advertising market this year.

Still, Google’s mobile display business is also growing quickly and the company will earn $315 million in US mobile display ad revenues, driven primarily by the underlying strength of its AdMob network and its pre-existing relationships with advertisers looking to extend their display efforts to mobile devices. As a result, Google’s share of US mobile display advertising will reach 17% this year—higher than all but Facebook. The bulk of future growth for Google’s mobile display business, eMarketer predicts, will come from mobile monetization of YouTube.

Twitter’s 2012 mobile ad revenues have also been revised upward to $134.9 million from September’s estimate of $116.8 million, representing 3.5% of the total US mobile ad market and 7.3% of the mobile display ad market. Strong performance from competitors such as Google and Facebook suggests Twitter will also have a faster-than-expected transition of native ad inventory from desktop to mobile devices. Additionally, the nature of Twitter’s Promoted Products and their integration with the platform’s core user experience allows for this transition to be seamless across platforms, meaning rising mobile usage will boost mobile ad revenues without negative effects on user experience.

Apple, which by the end of 2012 will hold an estimated 6.7% of the US mobile display ad market, has the potential to capture more market share in the long run, eMarketer believes, because of a strong capacity to invest and expand that business if it is successful. The company can continue to leverage the success of its iOS platform on iPhones and iPads in favor of iAds, as it has begun to do by phasing users out of native YouTube and Google Maps apps.

Millennial Media, by contrast, which has performed similarly to Apple in the past, has less potential to scale mobile ads in this way. But Millennial does have an outsized presence in the marketplace, despite this year’s 5.1% share of the mobile market after traffic acquisition costs (TAC). The company is well-positioned to use its vast audience to implement new technologies, such as geofencing—something companies other than ad networks will likely adopt much later. Overall, Millennial is in a position to capitalize on overall mobile ad market expansion, though against rivals with greater control over operating systems, devices and app marketplaces.

Despite the jump upward, mobile still represents a small slice of the total ad pie. Just 2.4% of total ad spending in the US will go toward mobile ads in 2012, eMarketer estimates. Mobile is expected to reach an 11% share of total US ad spending by 2016—when it will overtake radio but still be below print.

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Check out today’s other articles, “US Mobile Ad Spending Jumps to $4 Billion” and “Smartphones Speed the Digital Revolution in India.”

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