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By Erin Peralta May 28 2015

The Mobile Web: Why It Still Matters to Advertisers

In the first wave of mobile computing, marketers did little to optimize their websites for smartphone browsers. But in the early days, most consumer activities on smartphones were oriented towards games and messaging, so these categories drove early action on mobile apps. Mobile apps offer clear advantages in terms of interactive functionality, improved user experience, and access to customer data (i.e. location). As smartphone and tablet adoption exploded, we saw a corresponding increase in the number and variety of apps available.

As a result, the conventional wisdom is that the mobile web is not widely used and that apps are now the only game in town. This isn’t true and here’s why.

A complex marketplace

According to Nielsen, 89% of mobile usage now occurs inside apps.  However, if we look more closely, we would discover that most of that 89% is not relevant to marketers. That’s because it mostly represents usage of apps for email, subscription services, texting and social media, where there is often little to no advertising, or where it may have relatively less impact.

Centro tracks more than 23 billion impressions daily across more than 90,000 mobile apps and Web sites. Our data shows that the mobile Web still represents 84% of total mobile sites and almost 55% of total mobile impressions, while mobile apps only account for 45% of impressions and 16% of mobile ad sites.

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What we are seeing now is a complex scenario: on the one hand, increasing activity in mobile apps, and on the other hand, mobile websites continuing to steal share from traditional desktop sites. So the questions that remains is, “Mobile apps or the mobile web?” Well, the logical answer is “Both.”

Why the mobile Web is alive and well

You’re wandering around in a strange city looking for a good place to eat, drink, have coffee and/or be entertained. You consult Yelp on your smartphone and click thru to several websites; all of which are relevant to you, with some in proximity to the street corner where you are standing.

Along the way you may see ads that inform or inspire you to direct your feet in unexpected directions. Chances are good that you’re seeing those ads on mobile optimized sites. Occasionally, a site may ask if you want to download a mobile app. Remember, you’re standing on a street corner. You may or may not want to stand there and wait for that app to load.

Mobile apps are great places to advertise, but the mobile Web is alive and well. The moral of the story is simple: when planning your mobile ad campaigns, don’t forget the mobile Web.