Mobile Ads Drain Battery Power - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Mobile // Mobile Devices
06:30 PM
Connect Directly

Mobile Ads Drain Battery Power

Ads consume 23% of the energy used by ad-supported Windows Phone apps, says study.

10 Ways To Fight Email Overload
10 Ways To Fight Email Overload
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Advertising is supposed to provide a way for app publishers to provide free content to consumers, but it doesn't quite work that way.

Advertising has a hidden cost. Beyond time, attention and network data usage, ads consume power, which is not a trivial consideration on mobile devices.

The advertisements in a typical mobile app consume almost a quarter of the app's energy, according to research paper published by scientists at University of California, Berkeley, and Microsoft Research.

The study, "Prefetching mobile ads: Can advertising systems afford it?" states that among popular Windows Phone apps "on average, ads consume 65% of an app's total communication energy, or 23% of an app's total energy."

[ Want to know about updates in Apple's upcoming mobile OS? Read iOS 7 Beta 2 Lands On iPad. ]

The study authors, Prashanth Mohan, U.C. Berkeley graduate student; Suman Nath, senior researcher at Microsoft Research; and Oriana Riva, researcher at Microsoft Research, examine the issue with an eye toward making mobile ad delivery more energy efficient.

About two-thirds of the Android apps in the Google Play app store are free, according to the paper, and the majority of those (about 80%) are ad-supported.

They propose a scheme known as "prefetching," which as the term suggests, involves fetching online ads in bulk before they're needed, to minimize "tail time," a period of several seconds that the mobile phone's data connection is kept open as a means of improving network performance for any network requests that immediately follow. Prefetching is problematic for mobile ad networks, however, since just-in-time delivery matters and delayed ads can violate service level agreements (SLAs).

The researchers demonstrate that downloading 10 mobile ads of 1 KB as a group over an AT&T 3G network is more energy efficient than downloading one every minute. Prefetching, they assert, "is capable of reducing the energy consumed by an average client by 50%, while maintaining SLA violation rates below 3%."

The study's findings underscore the fact that developers need better tools to understand the relationship between application code and power consumption. As it turns out, Microsoft Research last year developed one, Eprof, a smartphone app energy profiler. The profiler shows, for example, that the third-party Flurry module consumes 45% of the energy in the Angry Birds app.

Till Faida, co-founder and managing director of Adblock Plus, sees the research as further evidence that ads need to be moderated. "The use of in-app advertising has enabled an ecosystem of free apps for many people's enjoyment, but we have to consider the impact this is having on battery drain," he said in an emailed statement. "... Many consumers are blaming their phone for poor battery performance when it is the advertising that is at fault."

Google, the leading mobile ad provider, doesn't see ads as a problem. It's more concerned about ensuring that people do see ads. Earlier this year, it removed removed AdBlock Plus from Google Play, citing the app's interference with other applications.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2021 Outlook: Tackling Cloud Transformation Choices
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  1/4/2021
Enterprise IT Leaders Face Two Paths to AI
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  12/23/2020
10 IT Trends to Watch for in 2021
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/22/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you.
Flash Poll