Mobile’s Inventory Glut Grows

For publishers, the biggest challenge around monetizing mobile audiences is still the matter of inventory oversupply. The number of mobile apps and sites is growing rapidly, but advertiser investment continues to lag, meaning even networks are struggling to fill the majority of impressions they’re handed.

According to data from publisher-side ad management platform Smaato, that problem is only getting worse. During the third quarter of the year the firm said only 18 percent of impressions were filled by the top 20 U.S. mobile ad networks, representing a decline from the 19 percent of ad slots they filled between April and June.

Worldwide the issue is even more pronounced. The average fill rate stood at 10 percent in the third quarter, representing an 8 percent decline from the previous three months, based on the 70 ad networks connected to Smaato’s platform.

The data illustrates the problem that continues to plague the mobile media industry: the commoditization of inventory. The oversupply of ad space continues to drive down prices, making it increasingly difficult for publishers to generate revenues from their mobile audiences. According to Smaato that problem looks set to get worse before it gets better, as supply continues to outstrip demand on a global basis.