Anyone wanting evidence that the mobile search market is heating up need look no further than Google’s recent mobile brand-image search ads and integration with DoubleClick.
These ads, unveiled April 23, are tailor-made for the smaller screens of mobile devices, such as BlackBerrys, iPhones and Treos. Google has been offering mobile search text ads for a while with its AdSense for Mobile program, but these new ads are different.
They are essentially mobile display ads, using images to sell the products or services, which-as with TV compared with print-is more effective at capturing viewers’ attention.
Google is providing these ads in Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, as part of an effort to standardize an industry fragmented by country-specific startups.
Then, on April 30, Google announced that AdSense for Mobile content publishers who have configured their sites to display mobile image ads can now have ads served to their sites from DoubleClick Mobile.
This means more advertisers for AdSense for Mobile content publishers, more inventory for DoubleClick Mobile advertisers and, ideally, more relevant ads for mobile Web browsers.
“Combine a more effective advertising format with a more effective ad platform, and voila!-a golden opportunity to capitalize with advertisers looking for improved click-through rates,” IDC analyst Caroline Dangson wrote in an April 30 note.
Shrinking Windows of Opportunity
The news comes at crucial point in the mobile search market. According to Juniper Research, the key to accessing the Internet using mobile devices will be vendors providing a search experience that is comparable to what users experience on their PCs.
Once that barrier is leaped, the key to monetizing mobile search and discovery will be mobile advertising, which is a green field despite partnerships by AT&T and Yahoo to attack this market. Juniper said it expects ad revenue from mobile search to blossom from $1.5 billion in 2008 to $4.8 billion in 2013.
Google’s offering is not without its challenges. Unlike a Web page viewed on a PC, which typically lists about four Google paid link ads, there is a limit of one display ad per page, making targeted advertising all the more imperative. Advertisers will truly need to “know” the consumer as much as possible. But at least Google has provided the vehicle to drive there.
The market’s potential is great. According to IDC, more than 70 million Americans are using mobile phones to access the Internet. Google.com enjoys an 80 percent share of U.S. Internet users but only 25 percent of U.S. mobile Internet users.
Globally, the picture is even brighter. Nokia estimates that 5 billion people in the world will have access to a mobile Internet connection by 2015, resulting in a staggering 100-fold increase in mobile network traffic.
Google has the opportunity to boost its mobile market share while Microsoft is still figuring out whether to go hostile on Yahoo or not. With the acquisition of Yahoo’s display ad arsenal, Microsoft would have a good shot at trouncing Google in mobile advertising. Until that time, Google has the inside track with its mobile image ads.