More Than Half Of Branded Content Views Now Driven On Mobile

October 25, 2016

Q3 Mobile Performance Highlights

  • Click through rates on mobile outperform desktop by 2x

Mobile achieved a CTR of 0.42% in Q3 which was 113% higher than on desktop and 27 percent higher than the overall global average.

  • The majority of views to branded content occur on mobile

Q3 marked the first time that mobile is driving more than half of the views to branded content – 51 percent to be exact.

  • A reader’s attention span maxes out at 2 minutes on mobile.

Given the relative consistency of time spent on mobile over the past seven quarters, it’s reasonable to suggest viewer attention spans for branded content maxes out at the 2 minute mark.

What is branded content?

Native advertising, advertorials, sponsored content, branded content, partner content – it’s all become a bit confusing, no?

At Polar, we view “branded content” as any content marketing program an advertiser executes with a publisher. In this context, we define branded content as any content that has been associated with a brand. There are many flavours to branded content, ranging from editorial sponsorships to custom content that typically has strong product integration.

Our benchmarks data and analysis is based on all types of branded content campaigns.

The scales have undoubtedly shifted, with mobile becoming the lead device driving branded content views


Mobile views to branded content driven through our Branded Content Platform now represent 51 percent of total views. In this most recent quarter we have continued to see an upward trend of mobile dominance. In fact, Q3 was the first official quarter where mobile breached the 50 percent threshold. Interestingly, if we were to combine tablet driven views under the greater “mobile” device umbrella, then the total mobile views proportion jumps to almost 75 percent.

Conversely, the largest change in views distribution is evident with the continued downward trends on desktops. To put it into perspective, in Q1 of 2015, desktop represented 46 percent of total views. It now represents only 27 percent. In many ways, one could argue that desktop is rapidly becoming the new the “print” for publishers.

According to a recent Digiday article, 70 percent of internet use is now on mobile, and the use of a desktop for internet will fall by almost 16 percent this year. Therefore, we are anticipating branded content consumption on mobile to proportionally grow even more in the coming quarters.

Download our full benchmarks report for a complete historical analysis on views distribution.

Premium publishers now focused on optimizing for a ‘mobile-first’ user experience


As the old saying goes, the numbers don’t lie. The impressive results for mobile click-through performance is undoubtedly accounting for these dramatic changes in views distribution.

Click-through rates on mobile and tablet devices dominated in Q3. Both device types continue to show performance metrics that outperform our overall global average of 0.33%. On the other hand, desktop continued to slide further below the average by almost 40 percent.

In conversations with publishers over the past few months, we’ve consistently heard that optimizing branded content promos for mobile is among their top priorities. To help our publishers drive even more views, we have invested heavily in crunching the data and understanding what influences lead to better performance on mobile. For example, we now know that shading a branded content promo on mobile can boost clicks by 81 percent. In addition, our solutions consultants have created a new library of optimized mobile formats and templates designed for higher engagement with branded video. These are just a few of the ways in which we are working with publishers to help improve mobile performance.

Download our full benchmarks report for a complete historical analysis on CTR performance.

Branded content engagement times significantly vary between different device types


Desktop accounted for the longest average time spent with branded content at approximately three minutes (178 seconds). Mobile and tablet were much closer to in the two minute range with mobile being slightly longer than tablet.

For publishers, the key takeaway here is to create content experiences that can be consumed in 2 minutes or less. We now live in a headline-driven world, and this is most true when it comes to content consumption while ‘on-the-move’. Like most digital projects these days, employing a “mobile-up” approach to the content experience will separate the winners from the losers. Trying to take a desktop built experience and consolidate it into a mobile one just won’t suffice any more.

Download our full benchmarks report for complete ATS historical trends.

Are looking for more insights into branded content performance?

Are you curious to see how different verticals like news and lifestyle publishers performed? Or perhaps you’d like to see how engaged times compare across the US, UK and Australian markets?

Get your hands on our latest Q3 Branded Content Benchmarks. We examine not only click-through rates (CTR) and average time spent (ATS), but also analyze how branded content performs across different device types, publisher verticals and geographies.

Download Our Q3 Benchmarks Report Now


JULY 2017

Polar’s Snapshot of Global Branded Content Performance presents the complete picture for major markets and publishers this past quarter.