Common ad currency comes to mobile

Advertisers can now access the first comprehensive data on consumer use of the mobile internet.

mobile internet

Operator trade body the GSMA unveils its long-awaited census data today (Thursday), offering advertisers and publishers information about mobile internet traffic directly from operator logs.

The anonymised Mobile Media Metrics (MMM) data is drawn directly from the five UK operators by measurement firm ComScore and independently verified by ABCE. It offers a precise insight into the browsing habits of every UK mobile subscriber.

MMM becomes the first common ad currency for any UK digital market, launching ahead of UKOM’s panel-based system for online measurement, which is expected this March.

Initial figures include top mobile sites, page impressions and minutes spent browsing, with stats around apps and search to be added along with
integrated data from market research firm TGI.

Rory Sutherland, IPA president and vice-chairman of ad agency Ogilvy UK, hailed the figures as the “barmitzvah” moment for mobile, when the channel came of age.

Complete figures were unavailable as new media age went to press, but initial reports show Facebook attracting around 50% of total mobile internet traffic, leading Paul Goode, senior VP of Census Solution for ComScore, to proclaim, “The mobile web is the social web.” In contrast, Facebook claims around 15% of total time spent online in the UK.

Google is the second most popular mobile internet destination, trailed by the operator portals for O2, Orange and Vodafone, ahead of Yahoo, the BBC, MSN and Nokia. Subscriber data from the T-Mobile and 3 networks is to be added within weeks.

Henry Stevens, director of media and entertainment for the GSMA said, “We’ve created transparency and the timing has coincided with a huge rise in media attention to mobile ads after their hype and lull.”

He added MMM would help content providers, ad agencies, device manufacturers and suppliers to plan more intelligent mobile strategies.

Michael Smith, deputy director of interactive services for the COI, said MMM would allow more tactical marketing via mobile.

“Metrics that aid our planning will bring confidence to the use of mobile, help us to understand what mobile is good for and explore when it’s the right channel to use,” he said.

Amy Gale, mobile marketing executive for Auto Trader, said firm figures made it easier to invest in the channel. “There has been so much confusion over how big mobile web use is. It’s good there’ll be one robust set of data. It means as a channel we can justify why we’re spending in this area,” she said.

David Fieldhouse, mobile manager for media agency Mediacom said, “It’s the biggest step forward in display ads on mobile we’ve seen. Crucially, it gives us a common currency to trade with media owners, which is an issue that has dogged online for years.”

Ogilvy’s Sutherland welcomed MMM but warned against using it simply as a tool to measure reach, and also questioned the benefit the operators would see.

“I have a small element of fear that it will become seen purely as an audience size game, which is completely failing to understand what mobile is,” said Sutherland.

“I want operators to be reasonably profitable and this is an area where I’d like to see large amounts of investment. If you’re an advertiser and you create an app, you generate a huge amount of value for your brand but the costs fall on the network.”

But Steve Ricketts, head of third-party services at Orange, claimed the data had far-reaching benefits beyond its use for agencies and publishers.

“All the doubts the internet suffers from about which numbers to trust disappear,” he said. “MMM is about growing the entire industry rather than fighting over a small slice.”

This story first appeared on

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