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Archive for July 27th, 2011

Article from SFGate.

“Many of today’s hot startups are banking on mobile ad dollars to make their business work, but it’s an incredibly small market that’s only likely to support a handful of breakaway winners.

The constraint was underscored late last week, when Pandora Media’s CEO told Bloomberg that the online radio service can’t find enough marketers to fill all the ad slots created by its many mobile users.

Pandora boasts around 35 million dedicated users, who do 60 percent of their listening over smart phones and tablets. The obvious question is: If the 11-year-old Oakland company can’t find enough marketers to make use of its ad inventory, who can?

Other popular companies like Foursquare, Instagram, Twitter and Flipboard are mostly or exclusively free mobile apps that will mostly or exclusively depend on advertising.

So just how much is there to go around?

Research firm eMarketer estimates that mobile advertising will reach only $1.1 billion this year. By way of comparison, Google reported $9 billion in revenue last quarter alone, almost entirely derived from the broader online advertising market.

Will more money move to mobile and will some of these companies emerge as big winners? Sure.

Shifting ad dollars

But new media don’t create new marketing dollars, they just draw them from somewhere else. Advertisers are famously reluctant to shift money from something that’s been proven to work, to an area that’s untested.

The truth is, it’s still unclear to many what ad types and formats will be most effective on small mobile devices – general brand builders, discounts as you walk by a restaurant, ads for other apps?

The one thing that does seem clear is that mobile users are incredibly touchy about ads, resenting anything that appropriates the limited real estate of their screen, arrives as a text that counts against their allotment or interrupts what they’re doing. So marketers are rightfully treading carefully.

Jack Gold, a technology analyst with J. Gold Associates, says mobile advertising is a promising sector that, for now, is just that: promising.

The other thing to keep in mind is that, whether it’s TV or tablets, the biggest outlets with the best return on ad dollars grab the lion’s share of marketing. Everyone else is left fighting for the scraps.

Gold said the phenomenon unfolding now is strikingly similar to the late 1990s, as hordes of companies marched onto the Internet, confident they could garner the traffic (back then they called it eyeballs) necessary to build businesses on ads alone. History demonstrated in brutal fashion that the vast majority could not.

“It’s almost certain that you’re going to see another shakeout,” Gold said. “That always happens. Always.”

Read more here.

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