Digital advertising in general continues to break records, with more and more ad dollars pouring into digital. Some are calling this the golden age of digital advertising as it is set to surpass even television ad spending by next year. For the better part of the past decade, most of that money has been spent on desktop ads, though everyone has long predicted that mobile would come into its own.
That has finally happened, and I'd say it took much longer to arrive but happened much quicker than anyone expected. Facebook led the charge into mobile and now it is their main business, a shift that you can expect to see for publishers across the board.
In fact, I'd say that mobile has become so successful so quickly that "mobile" will soon be a useless distinction. It will go from being a fringe case to being so dominant it's not worth mentioning the device. The sometimes abusive level of advertising seen on desktop sites just isn't really possible on a screen the size of a smartphone's, and it's a more personal device as well. Those factors mean a hard transition for desktop publishers but also a lot of opportunity to show ads that are truly better. And they are.
Pubmatic is one of the largest SSP/exchanges around and they recently published their quarterly mobile ad index. They found double digit--even triple digit-- year-over-year increases in mobile CPMs. CPMs for mobile-optimized inventory increased by 48% whereas non-mobile-optimized inventory fell by 26%. It shows the value of mobile, but there's really no excuse these days for a publisher not to have a mobile-optimized site so those sites are getting what they deserve.
Some of the biggest gains in CPMs were seen on in-app inventory, including a 133% year-over-year increase for iOS app inventory. Native apps haven't had any ad blocker problems thus far and benefit substantially from the advertising IDs that can be passed to ad networks and exchanges.
The other big factor cited by Pubmatic was private marketplace (PMP) inventory, which had CPMs that were 5-6 times higher than non-PMP inventory. That sounds fantastic but it generally only applies to the largest, most premium of publishers and it is fraught with all kinds of frustrations that the old insertion order method didn't experience from a publisher's point of view. That's a soapbox I'll stay off for now, but I'll plan a rant for later...