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Mobile Internet going strong; advertisers pay attention

March 16, 2009 |  1:24 pm
Rotary phones
Are non-smartphones the new rotary phones? Credit: Allie Pasquier via Flickr.

Remember the days when you rolled out of bed, turned on your computer and checked the news, weather and your Facebook account? That's so 2008. An increasing number of people are going straight to their mobile phones for all that information, according to a ComScore study released today.  The number of U.S. cellphone users who accessed the mobile Internet daily in January reached 22 million, double that of a year earlier.

"Consumers have more and more choices, and they're finding a pretty good experience using the mobile Web," said Mark Donovan, a senior analyst at ComScore.

The number of people using the mobile Web to access a social networking site quadrupled to 9 million, Donovan said, while the number of people who used the mobile Web to trade stocks or access a financial account nearly tripled to 3 million. (Phones might be useful for panic trading.)

Usage is increasing as more smartphones land in people's hands, Donovan said. The number of people with smartphones increased 81% over the past year, to 24.8 million from 13.7 million.

That trend is likely to continue as phones drop in price. ISuppli, an El Segundo research firm, predicts 11% growth in global smartphone sales in 2009, even as ...


... the overall mobile handset market slogs along. And Juniper Research predicts that smartphones will account for 23% of all new mobile phones by 2013, as demand for complicated applications draw consumers to more technically savvy handsets.

Popular content also is driving the on-the-go Internet numbers, Donovan said, as media properties such as CNN and Google perfect their mobile sites. That's motivated phone users without smartphones to start using the mobile Web too, he said.

This is all good news for advertisers, who are struggling to find an effective place to reach people in a year in which their budgets are significantly smaller than last. Donovan says internal ComScore studies have found that ads viewed on mobile phones can have higher click-through rates than those viewed on computers. Some mobile ads are viewed by users who are otherwise difficult to reach, such as those who don't use computers as much and mostly check the Web on their phones, he said.

Half of males 18 to 34 access news and information via the mobile Web, according to ComScore.

"Mobile marketing seems recession-proof due to the well-known fact that the number of mobile users is still growing and will continue to grow," Alexandre Mars, head of Mobile Publicis Groupe, said in a recent white paper.

His proof? There are 30 countries where the mobile penetration rate is above 100%, India boasts 9 million new users each month and China adds as many users as the population of Miami each month.

"Mobile marketing will give the advertising industry a complete face-lift," he said.

-- Alana Semuels

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