But partially, it’s also due to advertisers simply getting fed up with an Android ecosystem that doesn’t convert very well.
Mobile ad spend ballooned in March 2013
“There have been whispers and comments around Google’s Play app store, and some of those concerns were supported when they announced a redesign,” Paul Gelb, head of strategy for MoPub, the world’s largest mobile ad exchange says. “If you have people click on your ad and drive them to the app store and that becomes a breakage point … that will reduce the value of the ad that you want to buy.”
Which is a nice way of saying that ads for app installs aren’t always working, even when the mobile user taps on your ad.
Most advertisers and ad exchange partners don’t want to talk on the record, of course, but off the record will say that Google Play is just not at the quality level of the iOS app ecosystem. There’s too much crap, too much malware, there’s not the level of quality that iOS has … and there is a missing mass of people on the platform who have confirmed credit card accounts and are, frankly, in the demographic who are willing and able to buy.
That may sound sacrilegious to Android enthusiasts, many of whom of course are tech-savvy and higher-income, but it’s borne out by the numbers.
Not only are 75 cents out of every mobile advertising dollar spent on iOS, iPhone, iPad, and yes, even iPod touch ad rates are much higher. While Android smartphones draw $.50 CPMs (cost per thousand impressions), iPhones pull in $.65 to $.88 CPMs, iPod touches do $.74 to $.98, and iPads do between $.82 and $1.16.
Mobile ad CPMs for the first quarter of 2013
So while tablets are the highest-revenue mobile ad platforms, Android tablets only account for a skinny single percent of all mobile ad sales.
That’s entirely due to the basic driver of ad pricing: whether they work. Click-through rates on Android devices are about half as good as iOS devices, with under one percent on Android tablets and just over a percent on Android smartphones. Meanwhile, iOS devices such as iPads pull in 2-2.5 percent click-through rates, and iPhone pulls in 1.4-1.7 percent.
Click-through rates for mobile ads – first quarter of 2013
All of that ads up to an ad-share spend in which iPad almost eclipses the entire Android ecosystem single-handledly, iPod touch by itself does about a third to a quarter as much as all of Android, and iPhone owns about double the share of all Android smartphones and tablets combined.
Which brings us to the 75 percent iOS ad share:
Mobile ad market share, Android vs iOS devices
Does this matter?
On a certain level, Android users might not really care — after all, who likes advertising? But advertising is increasingly driving mobile monetization strategies for app developers, who must therefore care. And that means that the apps and experiences that Android users will eventually get from their platform suffer from the Android monetization gap.
Which doesn’t mean the gap will exist forever. MoPub’s Gelb isolated two key factors that need to change for that gap to disappear:
“I think Android tablets need to hit. It’s incredibly important — the larger screen just offers more ad potential,” he told me. “Also, there needs to be a bit more certainty and success around identifying high-value users who are known to have credit cards and disposable income.”
The question, of course, is when that will happen.