As magazine and news publishers put more emphasis on mobile, the tools and platforms designed to draw more advertising dollars into the medium are increasing as well.
On Tuesday, rich media ad platform Flite officially launched Touch Ad Studio, a version of its ad-creation platform for iOS devices. Touch Ad Studio allows publishers to design premium ads that are optimized for smaller, touch-enabled screens.
The software is designed to fill a gap in the mobile ad marketplace, which has been hampered by low CPMs relative to desktop display ads.
“Mobile solutions have been geared around ad networks,” Flite CEO Will Price said in a phone interview. “For premium publishers, there haven’t been a lot of great solutions in the marketplace. But they have to deliver the same level of premium experience on mobile properties that brands are buying on the web.”
Publishers are feeling an increased urgency to do so as mobile use grows. Half of all Americans have mobile Internet access through a tablet or smartphone, according to a new study from Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and The Economist Group.
Publishers are seeing significant increases in traffic from mobile devices. Forbes (a Touch Ad Studio customer) has seen the percentage of its audience coming via mobile devices increase from 10% to 25% in just 10 months. Mobile is also driving about a quarter of all traffic across Hearst Magazines’ website properties, according to Ad Age.
The ad dollars have yet to catch up, however. eMarketer predicts that mobile ad spending will reach $2.6 billion this year, with about 40% of that spending (just over $1 billion) on banners, rich media and video. But Ad Age, citing figures from VC investor Mary Meeker, says mobile web CPMs average only 75 cents, compared with $3.50 for desktop web ads. Hearst expects mobile ad revenue to make up just one-tenth of its total digital revenues next year. “There’s a really big revenue opportunity around mobile,” Grant Whitmore, Hearst’s VP of digital, told Ad Age.
A variety of vendors and trade associations are taking steps to help publishers capture the opportunity. The Interactive Advertising Bureau, for example, has been pushing for new standards for mobile display ads. Last week, the IABannounced the final release of the Mobile Rich-Media Ad Interface Definitions, which define a common API for rich media ads that run in mobile apps. MRAID 2.0 makes it easier for advertisers to deliver rich media ad units, including the IAB’s “Mobile Rising Stars” units, across different publishers’ smartphone and tablet apps.
Publishers, however, seem to be leaning more toward ad solutions optimized for the mobile web rather than native apps. Atlantic Media, for example, has developed its own “native ad” solutions for its new digital-only business title, Quartz, which debuted last week. Others, including New York Media and IDG, are creating their own solutions for responsive advertising as part of their transitions to HTML5-based websites. IDG this week launched TechHive.com, a site for tech enthusiasts, along with redesigned versions of PCworld.com and Macworld.com, which have been built with HTML5 and responsive design.
Other vendors are also looking to innovate around mobile ads. Onswipe, for example, is building an ad network to promote non-traditional ad solutions for the tablet-optimized websites it powers.