By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
January 10, 2009

Did Apple’s (AAPL) unrelenting advertising campaign for the iPod touch as a game machine  (“The funnest iPod ever“) pay off this holiday season?

Indirect data from two Web-based sources suggest it did — big time.

Net Applications (a Web metrics firm), and AdMob (a mobile Web ad network) both produced graphs last week with sharp Christmas day spikes of the kind you usually see only from runaway hits.

“iPod Touch requests on AdMob’s network exploded on December 25th,” according to AdMob’s Mobile Metrics Report for December 2008. Ad requests from the devices — a rough measure of Web traffic — increased 3.4 times from November to December. Since July those requests have increased more than 16-fold, from 18 million to 292 million.

As a result, the iPod touch is now the No. 2 device on the AdMob network, with a 4.7% share. Combined, the iPhone and iPod touch now represent 15.5% of all worldwide requests.

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The lion’s share of those ad requests come from the United States, but AdMob’s country-by-country breakdown suggest that the touch’s impact is considerably wider than that.

To read a summary of AdMob’s findings, or to download a pdf of the full report, click here.

Net Applications did not issue a separate report, but its day-by-day chart of page views shows a similar spike that settled down in the week after Christmas at a level roughly double what it was going into the holidays.

We won’t know exactly how many units Apple sold this holiday season until later this month, when the company releases the results of its first fiscal quarter for 2009. Last year Apple sold 3.5 million iPod touches in 2008 Q1, which closed at the end of December 2007.

According to AdMob, the company “serves Graphical Banner and Text Link ads on mobile web pages for more than 6,000 publishers. … Every day, we see ad requests from more than 160 countries.”

From Net Applications: “We collect data from the browsers of site visitors to our exclusive on-demand network of live stats customers.  The data is compiled from approximately 160 million visitors per month.”

(Hmmm, 160 countries, 160 million visitors. … Perhaps 160 is to the Web what 40 is to the Bible, a nice round number that means “a lot.”)

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