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Mobile Commerce – Not your mama’s monitization

2009 September 23
Mobile Internet Usage by Phone, Chitika Network 9/2009

This morning I received some interesting statistics in my email inbox. Many of you might have received it as well. I reposted it here.

Mobile Internet Usage by Phone, Chitika Network 9/2009

iPhone consistently covers 2/3 of mobile users

The first thing I noticed was how consistently iPhone usage is measured at around 66% of mobile usage to a given site. This is what I’ve seen in my experience with a number of organizations. I’ve also seen this stat elsewhere. It’s easy to understand why companies with a tight budget pick the iPhone when forced to pick one mobile platform.

Smartphone almost as happy with their browser as computer users

Secondly, I was surprised to find that smartphone users (68%) were almost as satisfied with using their browser on their phone as computer users (70%).  Not surprisingly, feature phone users felt differently (47%).

Coincidentally, Adam Woozeer (@AdamWoozeer) tweeted yesterday thatAbout 58% of total #IPhone users primarily use the iphone for web.” I’m haven’t been able to verify his data, but it seems to fit with the Chitika data. I might have ignored each of these data points individually, but together they made me take note.

Personally, I use my iPhone browser extensively, but I wouldn’t call it my “primary browser.” I certainly don’t interact with web sites in the same way on my iPhone as I do on my computer. Despite all the power of the iPhone browser, I tend to do everything mobile in task-oriented, bite-sized chunks. For me, this is as true for applications as it is when browsing web sites. In fact, web site loading is often just slow enough that I abandon the site all together rather than wait (I use the original iPhone without 3G).

Smartphone click through rates much lower than computer users

This is almost heresy. The conventional wisdom in mobile advertising is that mobile has much higher click through rates than computers (e.g. mobile ads are more valuable), although the tide may be turning. Chitika found the opposite. Chitika found that smartphone mobile advertising click through rates (0.48%) are much less than online click through rates (0.83%).

Mobile Internet Browsing & Clickthroughs
Smartphone Systems % Hits Clickthrough Rate (% of browsing, rounded)






Windows CE









Total Mobile


Source: Chatika, September 2009

The much lower mobile click through rate for mobile makes sense given the impatient, bite-sized behavior mobile consumers display. The stratospherical and often unsubstantiated click through rates quoted by mobile vendors with a vested interest (see link above) may not hold up in less controlled circumstances with larger sample sizes.

Maybe Monetization isn’t all about ecommerce-style advertising…

According to the stats above, smartphone users essentially consider their phone browser as good as a computer browser, yet they are far less responsive to traditional advertising.

Ultimately the lower click through rate suggests that ecommerce-style mobile advertising isn’t the best way to monetize mobile. The mobile context is just different. Mobile requires a different approach than ecommerce.

And from this point there aren’t easy, tested answers to the right way to proceed. It all depends.

Best practices will arise. But for now success relies upon knowing what others have tried and the history of what-works-where and what-doesn’t. Mobile monetization should also include actual commerce, which ironically most mcommerce lacks. Product placement and transactional revenue models also are appearing to work well in certain contexts.

Resources are tight and the stakes are high. This is no time to wander into the wilderness alone.

We would love to be your sherpa. Drop us a line:

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One Response leave one →
  1. September 24, 2009

    Steve Smith at clarifies in his blog that the Chitika data measured the same web-formated content. There were 92M impressions, 1.3M were from mobile devices. The sites were not optimized for mobile. So the CTR is measuring a smartphone user looking at an non-mobile optimized web ad. No wonder the CTR was much lower on phones than on the web. Duh.

    This does, of course, add evidence that sites should optimize for mobile. It’s amazing how many times I’m asked why do anything unique for mobile users at all by site owners. Technically it’s possible, but it’s not as convenient as a mobile optimized site or a mobile app. (Which is why I’m still scratching my head about the smartphone as a “primary browser.”).

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