The mega-shift to mobile hasn’t been an easy one for most media companies — but it’s continuing whether they like it or not.
According to the IAB’s Internet Advertising Revenue Report, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, mobile advertising revenue increased a whopping 145% in the first half of the year, tallying $3 billion. Put another way, mobile revenues from Q1 and Q2 of 2013 represent 90% of the total for 2012.
Sure, it’s still a relatively small piece of the pie … but it’s far and away the fastest-growing one.
No wonder higher-ups from both IAB and PwC were gung-ho over the mobile growth. IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg said: “Mobile advertising’s breakneck growth is evidence that marketers are recognizing the tremendous power of smaller screens.”
And David Silverman, a partner at PwC, added: “The significant growth rate of mobile advertising has continued into 2013, reflecting the profound shift in how consumers are viewing media — on their mobile devices wherever they go. And this trend will continue as smartphone and tablet penetration increases.”
Of course, some media companies are better positioned to ride that mobile growth than others.
Looking at Quantcast’s ranking for site with the greatest number of monthly visitors in the U.S., the overall leaders are not at all surprising: Google (GOOG), Google’s YouTube, Facebook (FB), Microsoft’s (MSFT) MSN, Twitter, eBay (EBAY), Amazon (AMZN) and more.
But switch over the the rankings for top mobile web traffic in the U.S., and those overall leaders, for the most part, are nowhere to be found. On top of that, a few surprising names don’t just make the top 100, but also boast eye-popping mobile-desktop traffic ratios.
One quick caveat: Mobile web traffic data from Quantcast does not include traffic from mobile apps, even though the IAB data does. That undoubtedly is a factor for sites like Pinterest, LinkedIn (LNKD), Buzzfeed, Twitter, Facebook and more. But app revenue also gets tricky, as it includes in-app purchases and download prices, on top of advertising.
And either way, it’s certainly a good sign to be a leader in mobile web traffic. With that in mind, here are six sites that have high mobile web traffic here in the states — and for whom it’s a high percentage of their overall traffic.
- Answers, portfolio company of Summit Partners: No. 1 in mobile web traffic, 77% of its overall traffic.
- Complex, website of Complex Media: No. 58, 76%.
- BabyCenter, run by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ): No. 13, 74%.
- ChaCha: No. 7, 66%
- Bleacher Report, recently acquired by Time Warner (TWX): No. 8, 64%.
- Local, owned by Local Corp. (LCOM): No.28, 63%.
Of course, that doesn’t mean these are great direct plays from an investing point of view. Bleacher Report and BabyCenter are mere drops in the buckets for their investable parent companies, while Local Corp. is currently losing money.
But LOCM is slated to post a profit in 2014, which would be its first in several years — and could be just the beginning if you believe in the mobile trend.
Beyond that, Summit Partners, for example, could theoretically spin Answers.com off into its own company. Meanwhile, keep an eye on Complex Media. It just raised $25 billion from Iconix Brand Group — owner of Rocawear, Ecko Unlimited, Umbro and other brands — to fund its aggressive growth strategy, including the launch of an e-commerce platform.
Plus, ChaCha — which I was shocked people still even used — got $14 million in funding at the start of the year to invest in new products and, you guessed it, “expand its mobile and online experiences for both users and advertisers,” as CEO Scott Jones put it.
The bottom line: If mobile continues its impressive growth, these headstart names could continue to ride that wave.
As of this writing, Alyssa Oursler did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.