Android finally inches past iOS in mobile ad sales

Google's mobile OS is not just the leader in traffic but is now tops in ad revenue too -- moving slightly ahead of Apple's iOS, according to new figures.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Although only by a fraction, Android has outpaced iOS in mobile ad revenue for the first time, according to data from Opera MediaWorks.. Opera MediaWorks

Android, Google's mobile operating system, has finally topped Apple's iOS in mobile ad revenue, according to a report released Tuesday by Opera Mediaworks.

Stats from the report covering the first quarter of 2015 show Android with a share of 45.77 percent of all revenue generated by advertisements across mobile devices throughout the world. That number gave Android a narrow lead over iOS, which scored a worldwide share of mobile ad revenue of 45.44 percent.

The figure is significant because it marks the first time that Android's mobile ad sales have outstripped those of Apple's iOS, even if only by a fraction. Also, since April 2014, Android has been outgunning iOS in mobile ad traffic. Android's current share of traffic is 65.17 percent, according to Opera MediaWorks, while iOS' share is just 22.34 percent. So both factors show the rise of Android devices overall despite the popularity of Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Drilling down the numbers by device, Android phones grabbed 42.46 percent of mobile ad revenue, while Android tablets accounted for only 3.31 percent. The iPhone captured 27.29 percent of mobile ad revenue, the iPad 17.45 percent and the iPod less than 1 percent.

"One year ago, in the first quarter of 2014, we witnessed a key moment in mobile advertising: Android overtook iOS as the top platform for traffic, as measured by mobile ad impressions served," Opera MediaWorks said in its report. "Now, in the first quarter of 2015, Android continues to dominate the market with a 65.2 percent share of impressions -- a nudge higher than the 62.7 percent of Q4 2014, but a big push up from its 42.8 percent share of one year ago."

Still, iOS managed to rack up a few points.

The report found that iOS is still tops in monetization. That means iOS devices have a higher ratio of revenue to ad impressions, or the number of times an ad is viewed. For example, the iPad generates the highest revenue per impression of any device measured by Opera MediaWorks. Monetization levels are higher for iOS because the iPhone and iPad have larger market shares in regions such as the US and Western Europe, where ad rates are higher.

Video ads also fare better on iOS devices than they do on Android devices, both in terms of ad impressions and revenue, the report found. iOS accounted for 62.7 percent of revenue on mobile video ads compared with only 36.2 percent for Android.

Opera Mediaworks analyzes mobile ad impressions from more than 850 million users across 18,000 websites and apps.