Google Oct. 5 sought to address a nagging hole in the mobile advertising market by tuning AdSense for Mobile for high-end smartphones such as Apple's iPhone, the Palm Pre and devices based on Google's Android mobile operating system.
The new feature will let AdSense mobile publishers serve larger text and graphical ads on their Websites designed for those high-end smartphones, which leverage full HTML browsers to approximate the Web surfing experience of today's desktops.
These device-optimized mobile ads will load faster and fit better on small screens, ideally helping publishers make more money from people who visit the site and click on ads in the course of viewing the Web content.
AdSense mobile publishers could serve mobile text and image ads before this feature, but these ads were not tailored for high-end smartphones and were smaller, Google software engineer Danielle VanDyke explained in a blog post.
"Because these devices offer a browsing experience that is similar to desktop computers, advertising on smartphones is a natural extension for any AdWords campaign," VanDyke said. "However, it's not always been easy for advertisers to reach people on smartphones. That's why we're investing in new high-end mobile advertising products such as our search ad options for high-end phones and AdSense for mobile applications."
VanDyke said publishers targeting all mobile devices or who can't change their Website aren't required to update their AdSense code in order to enable larger AdSense ads to show on high-end devices. That's because Google's AdSense technology will automatically detect if the user is browsing with a high-end phone. Instead of serving a smaller mobile WAP ad, AdSense will return a larger ad optimized for iPhones or other smartphones.
Gartner expects global sales of smartphones to top 27 percent through 2009, and the iPhone, Palm Pre and Android devices such as the T-Mobile myTouch 3G and Sprint Hero are at the vanguard of this smartphone movement. They therefore represent valuable real estate as the so-called third screen for online advertisers.
However, financial analysts are less bullish on the impact mobile ads will have on the advertising market. Bernstein Research's Jeffrey Lindsay noted in a recent research note that while the iPhone and others of its ilk are pushing mobile Web access into the mainstream, he expects the mobile Web to have a more modest impact on total online advertising for the foreseeable future.
One reason is that the limitations in both the viewing experience and network capacity do not make the mobile Web a replacement for PC-based Web browsing.
Still, he said mobile advertising could become a $2.2 billion opportunity by 2013, led by search and display ad segments. Google and Yahoo are currently best-positioned to leverage mobile ads through their search and display offerings, he added.
Mobile ad penetration is not only elusive, but the technologies for bringing it to the masses are no surefire bet either. The New York Times Oct. 5 published a feature on how Google's VanDyke and her team agonized over creating the AdSense for Mobile feature for high-end smartphones, which was originally slated for an August launch.