This Ad Network Says Mobile Growth Is Over for Now

Fluent sees smartphone and tablet activity level out

After two years of explosive growth in the mobile space, there's at least one player experiencing a slowdown in terms of mobile versus desktop activity.

In a report today, Fluent, a digital advertising network and insights vendor, said mobile interactions—clicks, video plays, etc.—were down 2 percentage points in the first quarter compared with Q4 of last year. (To be clear, the company said its revenues overall are increasing.) While the holiday season is a tough act to follow for any marketing channel, it's the first time Fluent has seen such a dip in the last few years tracking mobile versus desktop.

Specifically, 58.2 percent of Fluent's Q1 interactions took place on mobile devices, down from 60.2 percent in 2014's fourth quarter. So, even with the slight downturn, mobile is still beating desktop.

Jordan Cohen, chief marketing officer at Fluent, said, "We believe that mobile growth has leveled out, with the mobile-desktop split stabilizing at 60-40 in mobile's favor, at least for the next few quarters."

He cited two main reasons: "First, tablet sales began slowing last year. And second, smartphones began outselling feature phones in early 2013, and by now are virtually ubiquitous, so there is less room for the explosive growth that the smartphone market has seen over the past few years. All this said, the mobile plateau that we're witnessing today won't last forever."

The New York-based tech company's findings represent the aggregated digital advertising activities of more than 500 consumer-focused brands and direct marketers from the retail, packaged goods, travel, financial, media, health and telecommunications sectors.

Here are a few other stats from the Fluent ads report, Devices & Demos:

  • Cohen explained one trend his research team unearthed that could reignite mobile advertising in future months: "There is a direct correlation between age and mobile usage, with younger demos leaning more heavily towards mobile. The 18-to-24-year-old demo was on mobile over 80 percent of the time [and] the 25-to-44-year-old demo 68 percent of the time, etc."
  • Android was the dominant mobile operating system in the first quarter, accounting for more than two-thirds of all mobile interactions on his ad network.
  • Android's lead over iPhone iOS is especially obvious among men (74.8 percent) and the 25-to-44-year-old age group (72.5 percent).
  • Females were a bit more likely to be on mobile than males. And, across all age groups, the 18-to-24-year-old demographic, unsurprisingly, skewed heavily toward mobile.