Google Debuts Custom Search Ads for Mobile Apps

Google launched custom search ads for Apple iOS and Android mobile apps in a move to boost its mobile ad business.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Oct. 19 launched custom search advertisements for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Android mobile applications to boost its burgeoning mobile ad business.

The move comes roughly a week after Google CEO Larry Page said that the company's mobile ad business was on pace to rack up $2.5. billion in 2011. That's a healthy boost over the $1 billion Google claimed for 2010, but still just a sliver of the company's annual $30 billion ad sales, which stem from desktop search ads.

Custom Search Ads are designed to provide more relevant results to users searching within mobile applications for information on retailers, restaurants and other services.

They are also designed to help application developers offering free applications make money, or even pad the pockets of those developers already earning money from application sales. App developers can customize the look and feel of the search ads, altering the ad's font size, background color and gradient, as well as its location.

With its click-to-download format, Google is targeting the actions of searchers who use Google to find more information on mobile applications. Searchers will be able to click on one of the new click-to-download ads to go directly to Apple's App Store or Google's Android Marketplace to download the software of their choice.

Applications developers will be able to include application icons and information about the application in their ad unit to inform and, hopefully, entice consumers to download and purchase their application.

But Google is blanketing the whole application experience with ad revenue opportunities. To wit, Google also trotted out mobile application extensions, which let businesses use mobile search ads to direct searchers to a page within a mobile application that is already installed on their phone.

"For example, if someone searches for sneakers on a mobile device, they might see an ad that takes them directly into a cool shopping app they've installed on their phone," explained Surojit Chatterjee, senior product manager for mobile ads.

Meanwhile, local search ads are proving to be a boon for Google, too. Chatterjee said click-to-call ads, in which customers can click on links to phone numbers to call the businesses they've searched for, are now driving millions of calls a week to businesses all over the world.