Google Jan. 20 unveiled some important changes to its mobile search ad and Gmail ad offerings.
First, AdWords publishers showing ads on mobile devices with full Web browsers can now target based on Android, Apple iPhone or Palm WebOS devices and carriers simply by checking a box:
This is big news for publishers and advertisers because it provides greater granularity in targeting demographics, as Katrina Kurnit from Google's AdWords team noted:
"This feature makes it easier for you to reach the right users if you have a carrier- or device-specific message. This includes landing pages that have been optimized for a specific device, billing relationships with certain carriers, or mobile apps developed for a specific platform. For example, if you sell iPhone cases, you can use device targeting to ensure that users with Android phones won't see your ads."
That last point could spark some interesting data points in the wake of the emerging war between Google and Apple for the mobile Web.
Google is essentially providing a way for publishers and advertisers targeting users of Android devices such as the Nexus One to shut out the iPhone. The same is true in reverse, as iPhone proponents could shun Android.
Moving the granularity ball further forward, Google is also making sure ads linking to mobile app downloads will appear only on devices that offer those apps. Such ads will display a 'Download' link instead of a URL.
For example, Kurnit said publishers can include "itunes.apple.com/" or "market.android.com/" followed by the app name in the ad's visible URL. The ads will automatically display as "Download iPhone App" or "Download Android App."
The company is also trying to broaden the reach of the ads it serves to its tens of millions of Gmail users.
To do this, Google Jan. 20 said it is serving ads matched to recent e-mails, not just the e-mail that users have opened. See how this works in this demo video:
As always, Google explains that this is done on the fly with its search algorithm, not by human Google employees reading people's e-mail, and no e-mail or personal information is shared with advertisers. (Google has to explain this because privacy
nuts advocates believe Google workers read their e-mail.)
This a smart move to boost the ad coverage in Gmail, where content within e-mail messages may stay relevant to users for days, weeks or months.
Frankly, I'm surprised Google hasn't done this sooner. Think of all the ad opportunities Google missed in the past by targeting specific ads to specific e-mails.
As long as Google serves ads that are only relevant to relatively recent Gmails, then it should work well without disrupting the Gmail user experience.