The professionals on the RAIN Summit West "Profiting from Mobile" panel all agreed that mobile's ad sales outlook has, and continues to, significantly improve.
Even moderator Michael Theodore (Interactive Advertising Bureau VP) questioned whether the premise of "how do we fix mobile?" was correct. He said, "Those who feel mobile isn’t generating enough dollars are way too impatient." He illustrated his point by comparing the 2010 $1 billion mobile ad spend with television's $105 million in 1950. By 1952, TV's ad revenue had tripled, and Theodore is expecting the same for mobile when the 2012 numbers come out.
Pandora SVP/Ad sales Steven Kritzman quickly summed it up for his company: "Mobile is 65% of our revenue." What's more, mobile revenue growth has caught up to mobile listening growth, and is now outpacing it for the leading webcaster.
Clear Channel Media SVP/Local Digital Sales Michelle Savoy (left) said it's even time to ratchet up CPMs (ad rates). She credits an improved, richer, and more engaging mobile experience. Kritzman said much the same, saying mobile Pandora listeners tend to interact with the app much more than desktop users (for a station created by Pandora for an advertiser, for instance, Pandora sees 10 to 12 times the adoption on mobile). He's looking for the ad industry to improve its "engagement metrics" to better measure that interaction, and for marketers to improve ad creative.
If you're a webcaster or broadcaster, you absolutely need to have a mobile presence, stressed Abacast Director of Sales and Revenue Michael Dalfonzo. Already with 60-70% of his clients' listeners coming in via mobile, you need to get a branded mobile app, and to be available on the large aggregators (TuneIn, iHeartRadio). Oh, and build an alarm clock into it, so you can tune your listeners in the moment they wake up.
One key for the future he suggested will be the ability to target ad to individuals by the device they're using to listen. "you can reach them right when they're ready to make a purchase."
ESPN Audio Senior Director of Distribution & Business Strategy Patrick Polking said his company's main mobile challenge now is in distribution, that is, new partners and platforms to distribute ESPN content beyond SiriusXM, TuneIn, and Slacker. "Scale is going to be very valuable," he said.
Look for more recaps of the panels, presentations, and speeches from Sunday's RAIN Summit West.