Zach West

A couple years back, I had a conversation with my accountant. He told me, "Money is dangerous because success can hide failure." This is a good way to describe the conundrum now facing the mobile ad industry. While declarations of growth are abundant, the reality is that most mobile advertising is failing. Large percentage rates of growth look great, but that's coming off a tiny base. The truth is ad dollars are dripping—not flooding—into the mobile, even though nearly 60 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers now carry a smartphone. This reason for this is not overly cautious marketers, however.

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