Opera: Strong iPhone 5 Adoption And Sticky iPad Usage Keeps iOS As Top Platform For Mobile Advertising

Google may be the world’s largest mobile advertising company, but when it comes to devices that are driving the most advertising activity, it’s iOS and not Google’s Android that seems to set the heart racing. According to mobile browser and advertising company Opera Software, iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad continue to command the most usage among consumers.

In the company’s latest State of Mobile Advertising survey, which analyses activity on Opera’s network of 10,000 mobile sites and some 40 billion monthly impressions globally, iOS devices collectively accounted for 44% of all ad impressions. Android devices, meanwhile, accounted for 26% of impressions.

Opera notes two trends that have continued to keep Apple’s mobile platform in the lead when it comes to mobile ads.

The first is the popularity of the iPhone 5. Comparing its launch to that of Samsung’s Galaxy S III device earlier this year, Opera says the iPhone 5 has burst out of the starting gates at a much greater speed, and is now seeing more than double the activity of the Galaxy S III.

The iPhone 5, which started to ship to people September 21, now accounts for 16.1% of all traffic on Opera’s mobile ad network. The prevalence of that newer device has also helped push iOS6, Apple’s latest version of the operating system, to account for 65% of all iOS ad requests.

The Samsung Galaxy S III accounts for 8%, despite having launched four months earlier and projected to sell 30 million units by the end of this year. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the iPhone 5 is definitely selling better — we’ll have to wait for numbers from both companies to really make that comparison (and Samsung doesn’t give those out :)).

What it does show is that iOS continues to be the more popular and sticky platform. This is also related to the second reason why iOS continues to shine on Opera’s network, and that’s the iPad. Opera in its report calls the iPad the “mad moneymaker” because of how much higher its e-cost-per-thousand impressions (eCPMs) are than for other wireless devices.

This supports other research that we’ve seen that points to how engaged tablet users are, spending on average more time on their tablets than on other things consuming content, glued to the larger-screened, lean-back friendly devices. Some believe, like Opera, that this is having a knock-on effect on wider ad spend too.

Opera doesn’t reveal in its report how well other iPhone or other Android models are performing — or other platforms, for that matter. But it’s worth pointing out that if iPhone 5 is at 16%, and iOS overall is at 44%, that means that older models of the iPhone (and probably the iPad) continue to be used quite a lot. How much? It’s not a direct point of comparison, but we could have a clue by looking at some stats that Marco Arment, the founder of the read-it-easier/later app Instapaper, tweeted out earlier today, on the subject of how his app is being used across Apple devices.
As you can see, the iPhone is performing well but in fact not as well — yet — as the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 5, according to Instapaper’s founder Marco Arment, accounted for 32% of all Instapaper usage from iPhone devices, compared to 38% for the iPhone 4S and 26% for the iPhone 4. The fact that iPhone 5 is only at 16% of iPhone traffic on Opera’s network could mean that numbers for other versions of the iPhone will be even higher on Opera’s network.
Opera has a strong focus on emerging/developing markets — it noted in fact that Russia and Ukraine accounted for the biggest growth on its network (perhaps one reason why they are launching their newest services, like Opera Music, in Russia first), with ad impressions rising by 95% this year.
But in terms of dominant geographies, it says that the U.S. is still accounting for the “clear majority” of ad impressions at 65%, which is down from its peak of 73% earlier this year but still way ahead of everything else.
Opera — which, again, is pushing music and other media services of its own — also notes that media sites continue to be the most popular — calling out apps from Pandora, IMDb, Univsion, Demand Media and recipe/cooking app maker Big Oven as particularly strong performers. Given that music, video and lifestyle features tend to drive stronger engagement, this doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, though.