On 1st December 2010 US ad network Millennial Media officially announced its expansion into Europe, entering into a fairly crowded mobile ad network space, which also includes Google
(which acquired AdMob in 2010), Apple
, Smaato, Yahoo, Microsoft, 4th Screen Advertising, Unanimis, Yoc, Sofialys, and DaDa among others. Strategy Analytics was invited to its launch presentation to hear more about its plans and ambitions.
Globally, the Millennial Media mobile ad network is currently delivering 16 billion page impressions monthly, with Europe generating 2 billion (just 12.5%) of that. With Ofcom today indicating that 26%, 21% and 18% of cellular users in Italy, Spain and the UK respectively owns a smartphone
, there is clearly still potential for growth in Europe, as more mobile phone owners substitute feature phones and expensive pay as you use data tariffs with smartphones tied to generous data plans. Indeed, Strategy Analytics also believes there is growth opportunity in Europe, and predicts strong growth in mobile display advertising with advertiser expenditure rising ten fold $600 million in 2010 to $6 billion 2015
, as more users drive mobile web page impressions.
So where does Millennial Media believe it will fit in to the existing mobile advertising market place?
Well, it’s aiming to find the middle ground between premium ad networks like 4th Screen Advertising, and Orange owned Unanimis, which aim to maximise inventory return for premium publishers to get high CPMs, and blind ad networks aimed at filling large volumes of unsold inventory where its all about low CPMs and volumes (see figure above). Millennial Media does not intend to compete with the higher value mobile marketing campaigns from Blyk, Hipcricket or mobile operators like O2 Media.
Personally, I’m a bit sceptical this gap really exists. So ultimately I do expect Millennial to fall into the blind ad network bucket over time. On the other hand in these tough economic times brand advertisers are increasingly looking for metrics to prove advertising ROI, in which case Millennial Media will be well positioned to grow. Either way, validating Millennial Media’s claim is something we hope to do as we continue to conduct more research into this area.