The number of advertisers using mobile display ad campaigns in the U.S. has more than doubled over the past two years, according to digital marketing research firm comScore.
In April, 689 advertisers deployed mobile display ads to reach consumers, comScore reports, up 128 percent from April 2009.
(Also see: Windows Phone 7 mania peaks at 9 percent)
Not surprisingly, smartphones have played a big part in the growth of mobile ads. In its latest report, comScore writes:
More than 80 percent of smartphone users accessed their mobile browser (82.3 percent) or applications (85.0 percent) during March, while just 19.1 percent of feature phone users utilized their mobile browser and 15.9 percent accessed apps. Smartphone users were also far more likely to see web or in app ads (27.5 percent vs. 5.0 percent) due to their heavier usage of mobile browsers and applications and were also more likely to respond to SMS ads (7.7 percent vs. 3.5 percent).
With smartphone device usage increasing -- 31 percent of mobile subscribers use a smartphone, versus 20 percent a year ago -- mobile advertisers will have an ever larger target audience in the foreseeable future.
In a statement accompanying the report, comScore Vice President Hans Fredericks said, "The acceleration of mobile media consumption, driven by adoption of smartphones, 3G/4G networks and unlimited data plans, provides a ripe environment for advertisers looking to reach consumers through a variety of platforms including mobile browsers, apps and SMS. As consumer usage and technology continue to advance, look for advertising to play an increasingly important role in the development of the mobile ecosystem."
One caveat: Unlimited data plans are being phased out by major carriers such as AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile and being replaced by tiered plans. If this trend slows the acceleration of mobile media consumption, it also will impact mobile advertising growth.
As to what kinds of advertisers are using mobile now, mobile content and publishing comprised half of all mobile ads in April 2011, with "consumer discretionary" coming in second at 26 percent.
That's 76 percent right there, so the truth is the mobile ad market is pretty concentrated right now. This too shall change.