Summary:

Last May, Symbian phones offered the highest ad click-through rates in the U.S. on Smaato’s mobile ad network, followed by Apple iOS devices and feature phones, with other platforms rounding out the remaining spots. This year is a totally different story with a new global leader.

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Mobile ad network Smaato today released its quarterly mobile ad metrics report and the results show a surprising turnaround from a year ago. Last May, Symbian phones offered the highest ad click-through rates in the U.S. on Smaato’s network, followed by Apple iOS devices and feature phones, with other platforms rounding out the remaining spots. Fast forward to the present day, and Smaato notes that Microsoft Windows Phone 7 owners are click-happy and leading the pack around the world.

Given the relatively slow sales start of Microsoft’s mobile platform, I was a bit skeptical of the data. However, since the numbers measure the rate of click-throughs on mobile advertisements, they shouldn’t be impacted by actual handset sales. I reached out to Smaato for more insight as to why Windows Phone 7 owners are clicking on more ads than their iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Symbian counterparts and heard back from Harald Heidhardt, Smaato’s CMO, via email:

Even though Windows Phone devices  from Microsoft are not that successful yet in terms of market penetration it is possible, that the novelty factor of new Windows Phone devices is contributing significantly to the higher mobile advertising performance measured in Click-Through rates.

Microsoft’s own SDK is not delivering ads outside the USA yet, and it might be possible that overall there are less mobile ads presented in Windows Phone devices – therefore more attention is given to the ads in apps or mobile websites.

The metrics are looking at click behavior of anonymized smartphone OS owners that are averaged out over a large number of worldwide mobile inventory and therefore give an indication on what advertisers could expect from campaigns targeted to different smartphone OS.

Heidhardt’s explanation makes sense to a degree, although I’d like to see how this plays out over the long haul as Windows Phone 7 devices will lose any “novelty” factor throughout the year. I’ll also be curious to see if the trend holds true as Microsoft handsets are offered in more countries around the world. For now, though, Smaato’s data indicates that advertisers should be targeting Microsoft’s mobile platform

What say you to this news, and how many of you guessed it was Windows Phone? Bonus points if you did!

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