Even Without Tablets, Android Ad Impressions Up 996%

Advertising impressions on the iPhone are flat, while those on Android handsets are up 7 percent on a month-to-month basis, and overall impressions on phones running Google’s mobile platform have increased a hefty 996 percent since January of this year. However, in contrast to its handsets, Apple’s iPad (s aapl) is gaining in popularity: The tablet witnessed a 76 percent increase in ad requests in the past 30 days, as a larger display provides more opportunity for larger, more dynamic advertising. This data for the month of August was published this morning by Millenial Media, a privately held, mobile ad network based in Baltimore, Md.

The ad impression growth on Android (s goog) phones underscores the increasing number of Android handsets sold compared to those of other platforms. Just last month, U.S. sales of Android smartphones first surpassed those sold by Apple and then BlackBerry’s sales (s rimm) soon after. Advertisers know this, and are shifting dollars to the platform with more momentum for a better return on investment. If they weren’t doing so, they’d simply be throwing dollars at the iPhone, which has been, and remains, the top handset for total ad impressions on the Millenial Media network: The iPhone took the top spot in September of 2009 and, as of last month, accounts for 29 percent of all ad impressions on the network.

Surprisingly, only three of the top 20 devices in the Millenial report are from HTC. Given that HTC likely makes the widest range of Android device — an effort that has helped the company’s profits immensely — I would have expected to see better representation in the top 20. Instead, the HTC Droid Incredible is number six followed by the HTC MyTouch Magic (no. 9) and HTC Hero (no. 20). The latter two devices are relatively old compared to the newer, top-selling HTC EVO 4G, which is notably absent. Even more surprising is the appearance of the Palm Pre (s hpq), holding the eleventh overall spot for ad impressions last month. Millenial Media says that HTC accounts for 4.52 percent of all devices it tracks on its network, while Palm has only a quarter of that in market share: 1.06 percent of devices on the Millenial network are from Palm. With just two devices — the Pre and Pixi — advertisers may find it easier to target Palm users than seeking out HTC users across its vast array of handsets.

As long as Android handset sales continue to trend up, advertising dollars are likely to follow, but it would be foolish to ignore the opportunity provided by larger display devices such as the iPad. Indeed, with yesterday’s introduction of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, I anticipate Research In Motion to appear higher on future reports from Millenial after the device ships. Of course, there are Android tablets coming soon, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, so Google’s platform may continue its momentum. Perhaps by this time next year, tablets will usurp the top advertising spots away from smartphones in the Millenial Media reports.

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