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Mobile Internet exploding, online ads about to take off, says analyst Mary Meeker

Internet research analyst Mary Meeker delivered a full plate of mobile and online advertising optimism Monday in the form of her 48-page Internet Trends slide presentation.

In the Morgan Stanley analyst’s presentation at the Conversational Marketing Summit in New York, Meeker said mobile Internet use is ramping up faster than desktop Internet use did, with Apple leading the trend with the release of the iPhone nearly three years ago.

In three years, Apple attracted 86 million users for its iPhone and iPod Touch. As a comparison, in their first three years, Netscape attracted 18 million users and AOL had 8 million users. The Japanese company NTT Docomo’s I-mode attracted 31 million users.

Mobile use will only continue to grow, Meeker predicted, with smartphone sales surpassing PC sales in 2012. And smartphone use will dominate – with mobile Internet users buying more smartphones (93 million) than basic-feature phones (90 million) by next year, she forecasted.

Meeker's predictions come amid concerns by federal regulators that mobile networks in place today and in the near future won't be able to meet the data demands of smartphone users.

And AT&T's announcement of tiered data pricing for new iPhone and iPad users show how the company is trying to manage capacity issues as they gear up for sales of Apple's new iPhone 4 (check out Rob Pegoraro's post on the company's announcement Monday) and the iPad.

Why now? Among the factors that are driving the mobile Web, Meeker said, 3G wireless data networks rank most highly. All major carriers introduced 3G access for Android phones, the iPhone, Blackberry and Palm Pre this year, making mobile Internet use mainstream at 20 percent of all wireless users, Meeker said. There has also been an explosion of Wi-Fi connection hot spots.

Advertising may finally be set to take off on the Internet, she said. People are spending more time on the Web – more than they do reading print publications or listening to the radio. (But not as much as TV, which still dominates.) But even as users spend 28 percent of total entertainment time on the Internet, advertisers only spend 13 percent of their budgets on the Internet. That represents a $50 billion opportunity, she said, that advertisers are starting to seize.

One measure of online advertising growth is paid clicks on Google’s advertising platform. The company brought in $12.95 billion from paid clicks in the first quarter of this year, up 15 percent from the same period in 2009. Yahoo’s display advertising revenues also increased 20 percent in the first quarter, to $444 million, from the first quarter of 2009.

And sites like Facebook have massive advertising potential. The number of people who clicked they “like” Nutella, the chocolate hazelnut spread, equal the number of people who watch the television show "Scrubs." The number of people who show a preference for the Facebook game Mafia Wars equal those who tune into CBS's "The Good Wife" and outnumber those who watch "Glee" on Fox.

Behavioral and targeted advertising is under scrutiny by regulators and lawmakers. Rep. Rick Boucher's privacy bill allows advertisers to collect information about users for targeted advertisements, but limits the use of location-based services and the collection of sensitive information such as financial, health and political preferences.

By Cecilia Kang  |  June 8, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  FCC , FTC , Media  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: New iPhone 4 geared for hungry Internet users as flat rate plan ends
Next: Gates Foundation, USAID create $10 million fund for mobile money services in Haiti


" Netscape attracted 18 million users and AOL had 8 million users."

Yeah, and when they started up there were many fewer than 86 million people who had internet access. Please don't succumb to stupid figures.

Posted by: therev1 | June 9, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

AT&T's tiered pricing has little to do with managing capacity. They admitted as much when they said that it won't affect 98% of their customers.

Where they are going with this is to charge sites such as YouTube, which they have been trying to do for some time now. Their "network neutrality" approach might or might not work, but this one will. You can see it already in Australia where monthly limits apply to your usage for both broadband and phones. The limits are low and overage charges quite high. But "certain providers" are exempt which means that data from them doesn't count against your limit. Of course, these providers have had to pay ISPs and telcos for that exemption.

People are (rightly) scared of using too much data so these are the sites they use. And that's what will happen here.

Posted by: vdev | June 9, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

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