Mobile Readers Abound – the Ads, Not So Much

mobile users and advertising

With time spent on mobile offerings expanding 40 percent year over year for properties involved in a recent comScore survey, to approximately 55 percent of all the time users spend viewing popular news and information outlets, it would seem that Internet marketers are set up for success.

Unfortunately, that’s far from the truth, with many sites continuing to see a dramatic decline in revenues due to a lack of information on mobile users and their behavior.

Problems Targeting Mobile Users

Unlike desktop users, mobile users are much more difficult to track and target. In addition, certain dependable forms of desktop Internet ads, like banners, fail completely on the significantly smaller screens of mobile devices. This lack of data and tools has resulted in a “mobile gap,” with the amount of visits coming from mobile devices far outpacing the revenue they generate. For example, the New York Times Co. now gets more than half its visits via mobile devices, but those visits only account for about 15 percent of their ad revenue.

Although it’s a tough world for anyone trying to advertise to mobile users, traditional publishers of print media are hurting the most. Their print ad revenue continues to fall, but they’re also still struggling to catch those mobile users, resulting in a huge loss of income across the board.

Social media, on the other hand, has seemingly unlocked the door to mobile users through the efforts of Facebook, Twitter and Google. Where publishers are having trouble targeting a specific demographic, Facebook can find them easily and even introduce insights or user groups that a company might have not realized were an untapped market.

Partnering with Facebook to Conquer Mobile

Companies like BuzzFeed, Daily Mail, the Atlantic and the New York Times have partnered with Facebook using the “Instant Articles” program. This program allows these companies to publish news or informational stories directly to Facebook. In exchange, the news outlet keeps 70 percent of the income generated from ads that Facebook sells and has the opportunity to keep all the income from ads they sell themselves.

Not every news outlet is ready to sign their futures over to Facebook, though. Instead of riding the growing wave of social media marketing, companies like The Journal are keeping their marketing efforts to themselves. The hope is that the technical barriers to mobile advertising will be worked out before ad revenues drop to the point of no return.


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