Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Steve Jobs has broken a thermometer. Who will offer a new, more reliable, reference ?

During last 2 years, analysts presented a lot of reports about mobile Internet usage based on AdMob public reports. Now that AdMob is thrown away from iPhone, what will be the new reference ? GSMA has a unique opportunity to take a position.

AdMob is regularly reporting Mobile Internet traffic trends for the mobile sites - traffic per device manufacturer, per country, etc... - based on measurements on mobile sites where it delivers banner ads. The last part of the sentence is important because it naturally brings a bias to the statistics. AdMob mainly delivers banner ads for small mobile Internet websites, typically with an insufficient size to maintain an internal advertising agency.
Typically, since AdMob has a very low footprint on main mobile service provider portals (Orange World, Vodafone Live or Vodafone 360) or on successful internet sites (flickR, yahoo, Google, news, etc...), these reports were probably minimizing the mobile Internet traffic generated through feature phones (Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Lg). Typically, due to broader "phone designed content" and/or preferential tariff, owners of feature phones were more used to crawl telco and well-known portals. This possible bias did not prevent analysts to create expensive reports from this free input.

Does this create a small or a tremendous bias ? Nobody knows the exact relevance of these reports in the past. But these reports will for sure loose any value for next issues, now that AdMob, on one hand, has been acquired by Google - a mobile OS vendor - and, on the other hand, will be prevented to deliver ads on iPhone.

So, through these drastic T&Cs, Steve Jobs has broken a thermometer. There is now a need for a new reference. GSMA could certainly become this reference.

Association of mobile service providers could aggregate local reports collected by all their members, measuring traffic in the network, on the neutral path between device and mobile web site. Perhaps these reports (aggregated measurements !) already exist but they are then published with a serious lack of impact. Mobile service providers could play the role of neutral party, providing totally unbiased reports, guiding the whole industry : device manufacturers, web designers, application developers and even end-users in the choice for an efficient phone. These measurements could even be monetized through more advanced reports sold to large Internet players, specialized analyst offices or governments willing to measure "digital divide".
Moreover, at the contrary of some other available measurements created in some countries (ComScore, Nielsen, national advertising associations, etc...), mainly done for advertising purpose, these GSMA measurements would also measure traffic on "ad free" sites.

Will the community of mobile service providers take this unique opportunity to become a reference or will they leave other players become a reference in their own garden ?
To be continued ...

Benoit Quirynen

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