Mobile Web Advertising taking off in Kenya.
The big news of the past week was the announcement from Google that it had acquired the mobile web ad network Admob for US$ 750 million. Now, for those who have been using or tracking the mobile web ad market for sometime now, this was no real surprise since Admob was significantly larger than Google on the mobile web for display ads on mobile web sites and applications. Buying Admob effectively makes Google the largest mobile web ad network in the world, when you combine Admob with their existing mobile advertising offering(s).
Google’s acquisition of Admob is significant for several reasons, at least from my perspective. I have been writing now for the better part of a year that the mobile web is undoubtedly the next big thing for Africa and other emerging markets when it comes to Internet growth. For one thing, its a known fact that most new Internet users in countries such as Kenya and elsewhere in Africa in are getting online in droves, but primarily on the mobile web, via their mobile handsets.
Recent price reductions, bandwidth upgrades and nationwide ubiquity of mobile Internet access are creating an enabling environment for a sharp increase in usage and new subscribers. Naturally, this means that over time more, if not most Internet users in Kenya, as well as the rest of Africa, will access the Internet via the mobile web. As a result, where there is an audience, there will be a market for advertising – the writing is on the mobile screen! The future of advertising online (especially in emerging markets) is going to be on the mobile web!
In Kenya, Google already has a regional office that has been operational for several years through which they have been leading initiatives such as local versions of Google Maps, Google SMS, Google Adwords, Google Apps, YouTube and Google AdSense. The integration Admob into its offerings means that Google will bolster its revenues from Advertisers who want to potentially (and eventually?) reach 18+ million Kenyan mobile subscribers via the mobile web, in a highly targeted and contextual manner (Kenya currently has around 4+ million Internet users).
In addition to generating more revenue by selling mobile web ads, there is another possibly more interesting aspect to Google’s acquisition of Admob which is access to rich mobile web usage data and statistics. In a nutshell, Google will be able to capture and monitor (global) usage trends on the mobile web much more accurately than it ever has before. Access to qualitiative mobile web usage intelligence will ultimately drive key mobile strategies for Google’s product and service development initiatives.
In terms of mobile web usage intelligence, the current Admob web site already provides a tantalizing view in its monthly reports. Admob’s Mobile Metrics is a monthly compilation of reports that you can download which have detailed global mobile web usage statistics for different regions and countries. In fact, just last month when I was in South Africa for the Mobile Web Africa Conference, I happened to meet an Admob representative who said that they we’re “thrilled” by the Kenyan market since they achieved 180 million mobile ad impressions in a recent month – thats HUGE by the way considering that Kenya still has very few local mobile web sites so most of these ad impressions must have come from non-Kenyan sites.
To further reinforce the fact that Admob is already doing well in Kenya, I was recently contacted by another mobile ad network, Inmobi. Inmobi also claim that Kenya is delivering impressive mobile web ad impressions to the tune of approximately 35 million per month for around 50 mobile web sites through which which their ads are displayed. Also, according to BuzzCity, another global mobile web ad network, Kenya enjoyed 52% growth and replaced United Kingdom in 5th place in its 2009 3rd quarter index report. Incidentally, Kenya was also the only country amongst the Top 5 that enjoyed positive growth.
The bottom line is that the mobile web ad market is booming in Kenya. Going forward, the question is whether this will be enough incentive (yet) for Kenyan and African businesses, brands, and developers to jump into the game and start building mobile web sites and applications to monetize this fast growing advertising channel!