Apps have transformed our lives, enabling mobile devices to replace both mp3 players and the TV weatherman. We now spend more time using apps than ever before, and the recent shift of ad spending towards in-app reflects this fact. As uncovered in our recently-released Q1 2017 Global Trends in Mobile Advertising report, in-app ad spending reached a record high on the Smaato platform in Q1 2017 with a 91% share of total mobile ad spending (versus mobile web).
We analyzed over one trillion ad requests on the Smaato platform in Q1 2017 and saw that, of this amped-up mobile ad spending, a higher share went to in-app than ever before. But this rising tide did not lift all boats equally — certain app categories fared better than others.
Music Apps Rock Mobile Ad Spending
Music saw the highest mobile ad spending of any app category in Q1 2017 — music apps captured 16% of the total mobile ad spending on the Smaato platform. eMarketer expects ad-funded streaming service revenues to grow 2.5X over the next five years,¹ meaning that the music category will likely continue to drive mobile ad spending well into the future.
Ad Values Shine Brightest in Weather Apps
Many of the top app categories by ad spending also ranked among the top categories by ad space value (eCPM). However, the average Q1 2017 eCPM of one particular app category stood out far above the rest — Weather.
Weather was not the largest app category on the Smaato platform in terms of sheer ad spending, but it was the most highly valued by advertisers in the first quarter of 2017 — with average eCPMs 2.5X higher than any other category. Other particularly strong performers included gaming (Video & Computer Games) and dating apps (Society).
By-country analysis of eCPM by country showed that while advertisers’ valuation of app categories had some regional variation, weather apps saw the highest ad values in nearly all of the world's top mobile ad spending markets. In fact, the only country where weather apps did not garner the highest average eCPM was Brazil — where tech (Technology & Computing) and gaming (Video & Computer Games) apps prevailed instead.
Geography Drives Weather App Seasonality
Looking deeper into weather app advertising metrics by region, we found clear seasonal variation in the popularity of weather apps (as measured by daily ad impressions). Major mobile advertising markets where differences in ad impression patterns (driven by smartphone users' usage of weather apps) were most noticeable were the US, Germany, Australia and South Korea.
Bad news was good news for weather apps in the US over this period, as inclement weather conditions seemed to drive ad views. The first major increase in weather app ad impressions occurred in late May and June, just as tornado and thunderstorm season picked up. Next, as summer thunderstorms and tornado activity peaked in late June and July, so did weather app ad impressions — with everything clearing out by early August.²
The next peak for weather impressions came in hurricane season, which in 2016 featured Hurricane Matthew, a Category 5 hurricane that dominated headlines from late September to mid-October and caused widespread destruction.³ An unusual rash of out-of-season tornadoes also drove weather app impressions in the late Fall, as November 29 was unexpectedly the second most active tornado day of the year according to NOAA.
Germany’s mobile weather app usage seemed to be sun-driven, as users seek fair weather when they have time off to enjoy the outdoors. School and university break times — whether summer vacation, spring or winter break — were times when weather app ad views are highest. Unlike in the US, predicting bad weather at times when users are already working is not a driver of ad views in weather apps on the Smaato platform in Germany.
As a Southern Hemisphere key mobile advertising market, Australia’s seasons are obviously reversed from the US and Germany, for example. However, the differences don’t end there. Unlike, say, in the US, where wind-related weather drives weather app ad impressions, or in Germany, where mobile app users are sun- seeking, Australia’s weather app impressions are rain-driven.
For example, in Autumn 2016, April had below normal precipitation; weather app ad impressions were below normal, too. May, typically the beginning of the dry season, had above average rainfall in 2016, and weather app ad impressions rose significantly versus April as well. Same with June: much above average precipitation led to much above average mobile app ad views. September 2016 was the second wettest September on recent record (behind September 2010).⁴ Weather app views surged. March 2017 saw Tropical Cyclone Debbie bring torrential rain to Australia’s east coast (Australia’s population center), and weather app ad impressions skyrocketed, as several regions saw their highest March rainfall on record.
In South Korea, weather app users seem to watch the weather year-round, as there is no discernable pattern between weather anomalies and weather app ad impressions. Weather app ad impressions are consistently high all year in South Korea. Advertisers clearly recognize that smartphone users rely on their weather apps, given that weather app eCPMs are very high compared to eCPMs in other top app categories in South Korea, as already shown in the previous section of this report.
For the full analysis of the past year's mobile advertising trends, download our Q1 2017 Global Trends in Mobile Advertising report. This report also explores:
- Which mobile markets drove global ad spending growth
- How Chinese/Lunar New Year shook the mobile advertising world in celebrating countries
- Which countries boasted the highest growth in mobile ad values
- In-app’s domination of the mobile advertising world
- Which sports events spiked sports app eCPMs
¹ eMarketer, September 2016
² NOAA Annual Severe Weather Report 2016
³ 2016 Hurricane Season Recap, Weather.com
⁴ NOAA Global Climate Report, September 2016