A new study by mobile advertising analysts Millennial Media
finds that Apple's iOS is again the dominant platform for ad impressions, a measure of the effectiveness and engagement with in-app advertising. The report found growth in ad impressions across platforms and manufacturers, apart from BlackBerry which continued to shed users. Apple again swept the hardware results, taking the top manufacturer, top smartphone, and top tablet. Google's Android platform, however, continues to make great strides in growth.
Android tablet ad impressions were up nearly 100 percent year-over-year, but still lagged behind iOS (45 percent to 54 percent). The results do not necessarily mirror sales or usage stats, however, due to the dominance of ad-supported "freemium" apps
on the Android platform, where users tend to eschew paid apps. The model is good news for advertisers and feeds into the interests of Millennial Media, which uses analytics to determine app usage and advertising efficiency.
Android and Apple both increased their overall share of impressions year-over year, with Apple sustaining the most growth (six percent) while Android grew three percent despite the meteoric rise in Android tablet impressions -- suggesting again that actual sales of Android tablets may still be very anemic, despite the steady increase in "shipment" numbers. That said, the Nexus 7 tablet was able to grow impressions 126 percent from the previous quarter, establishing it as one of the strongest competitors in this arena to the dominant iPad.
For the Q1 period, ad impressions from all models of iPhone grew 28 percent from the previous quarter, while Samsung saw impression increase 19 percent across all of its many devices to stay in second place for manufacturer share. Apple and Android's increase in ad impression share came entirely at the expense of BlackBerry and Windows Phone. The former saw its share cut in half (from 14 to seven percent), while Microsoft saw its mobile ad impressions drop by two-thirds to one percent.
One of the most interesting parts of the study showed that what Millennial called "non-phone connected devices" (tablets and e-readers, primarily) were also growing, with ad impressions increasing from 20 to 25 percent year-over-year. Amazon was able to enter the top 10 of manufacturers with its Kindle e-reader and Kindle Fire tablets thanks to that growth, and saw impressions on its two platforms increase 125 percent from the previous quarter to make up 26 percent of all Android ad impressions -- hinting that the company met expectations on holiday sales last year.
Though sales and statistics stories such as this one paint a competitive "platform war" picture of Android versus iOS, in fact Millennial reports that there is a healthy amount of "crossover" between the two platforms. It found that 25 percent of iPad owners, for example, have an Android phone -- and anecdotal evidence suggests that many iPhone owners are perfectly comfortable buying a Kindle or Kindle Fire, or a Nexus 7 (for example) for budget or other reasons.