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Study: Mobile Advertising Kills Battery Life

Mobile advertising is responsible for 23% of the typical smartphone app's power usage, say researchers from UC Berkeley and Microsoft Research.

A team of researchers from Microsoft Research and UC Berkeley have quantified the battery usage of mobile advertising mechanisms on smartphones. The results aren't pretty: Study authors Prashanth Moran, Suman Nath, and Oriana Riva found that in the top 15 free Windows Phone applications, 23% of an app's total energy usage was tied to mobile ad fetching and display.

The study (PDF), which focuses exclusively on energy usage in Windows Phones, was publicized by anti-ad software provider Adblock Plus.

So why do the researchers think mobile phone advertising is such a battery drain? They trace the problem to "tail energy," or the unnecessary expending of phone battery life while new ads are fetched. The study recommends building a new ad pre-fetching model, which is a complicated logistical task for mobile engineers.