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Publishers Slow to Take Advantage of Mobile Sites

Device, OS fragmentation contribute to slow proliferation of mobile sites

September 26, 2011

More than two in five mobile users will go online from their phones each month, eMarketer estimates, but many websites have been slow to make their content available in mobile-optimized formats.

Research from mobile site detection API provider Company Data Trees found that in January 2011, 14.32% of the top 10,000 sites on Alexa had a mobile version, and 14.67% of publishers (defined as websites with advertising) had one. The percentages have grown since then, to around 24% and 26%, respectively, as of September. That growth represents a 75% increase in mobile adoption among publishers and 66% among all websites over the course of approximately nine months.

Web Publishers* vs. Total Websites Worldwide that Have a Mobile Website, Jan & Sep 2011 (% of total)

Yet while more publishers are optimizing their sites for mobile, most are still not serving mobile ads. In September 2011, more than 61% of the publisher sites studied by Company Data Trees had no mobile ads.

Mobile Web Publishers* Worldwide that Display Mobile Ads, Sep 2011 (% of total)

David Engel, CEO of Company Data Trees, told eMarketer that publishers were leaving ad revenues on the table—especially since mobile ad networks exist, and many publishers already have a mobile-optimized site with inventory going unused.

“Publishers should pay more serious attention to this, and to creating a mobile website,” said Engel. “So much weight is put on apps, but the real opportunity is for the mobile website.”

Many of the same difficulties inherent in app creation carry over to the mobile web, however. Fragmentation is a problem for both mobile formats.

Compuware’s September 2011 “Gomez Application Performance Monitor,” for example, found significant differences in load time for mobile-optimized sites on different phones running different operating systems. While the pages Compuware monitored loaded in an average of 9.9 seconds on the HTC Evo, they took an average of 10.8 seconds to load on Apple’s iPhone, 13.8 seconds on the BlackBerry Torch and 15.3 seconds on the Motorola Droid.

Compuware's report noted around 500 mobile browser and device combinations currently in use.

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Check out today’s other article, “B2B Buyers Research Purchases on Multiple Screens.”

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