Mobile Ad Rates Inch Up, Slowly

Black Friday drove pricing surge, per MoPub

The desktop Web wasn’t the only channel to see display ad demand and rates increase over Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Mobile banners also received a boost that has yet to ebb.

On Black Friday mobile ads’ effective cost-per-thousand-impressions hit 76 cents, up from 68 cents the week prior, according to mobile ad exchange MoPub. Rates hit 82 cents the following day before settling at 71 cents on Cyber Monday then inching up again to 74 cents last week. That’s compared with the 68 cent effective CPM (eCPM) mobile ads averaged the week before Black Friday and 63 cents averaged during the month of October.

MoPub’s head of strategy Paul Gelb explained the Cyber Monday drop-off as a result of the ads run from Thursday through Sunday depleting many marketers’ allotted budgets—resulting in fewer buyers and lower prices. Spending bounced back later that week when the December budgets kicked in, and Gelb expects prices to trend upward over the next month because advertisers this year “have a lot more knowledge or understanding of the inventory that is performing best” and are more willing to pay for those higher value impressions. In the past, fewer brands had a thorough understanding of the mobile media they were buying and resigned to identifying the lowest priced placements, he said.

It might look like the holidays had no impact on bid volume—the average number of bids per impression has hovered around 4.5—but that’s because inventory expanded, accommodating the higher demand. MoPub saw a 72 percent increase in available inventory from Black Friday compared to the month of October. And demand has continued to increase as the holidays have approached. On Cyber Monday, bid density bottomed out at a pre-Black Friday 4.3 bids per impression on average but shot to 4.7 bids per impression last week.


However not all bids are created equal. Book apps garnered the highest between Black Friday and Cyber Monday at nearly $1.20 eCPM but fell to 85 cents after the weekend shopping bonanza. Gaming apps have emerged the most valuable media buys since Cyber Monday at around $1.06, followed by business apps at roughly $1.05. 

In keeping with the stereotype that Android users are more frugal iOS users, ad rates for the Google-run devices have generally lagged behind Apple’s by about a quarter. On Black Friday an advertiser could reach a thousand Android users for 58 cents whereas iOS users cost 86 cents. Prices have remained in that range since Cyber Monday, with Android at a 58 cent eCPM last week and iOS at 81 cents. 

Price gaps abound even across devices running the same operating systems. The iPad has fetched more money per impression than either of its smaller siblings, the iPod Touch or iPhone, according to the report. Surprisingly, though, the iPod Touch has outearned the iPhone. The Internet-enabled mp3 player has hovered around 95 cents eCPM since Black Friday whereas the iPhone has failed to cross the 90 cents mark, peaking at 84 cents the weekend following Black Friday and sticking at 76 cents last week.

Gelb was “very surprised” that iPod Touches nabbed higher rates than iPhones but guessed that the former may index higher for specific behaviors or characteristics advertisers were looking to target. Other possible reasons include that more iPod Touch owners may use the device on Wi-Fi, which is a more valuable behavior to target, or iPod Touches may see a lower amount of impressions, therefore each impression is more valuable, he said.