Home To Beat Google, Beat Google to the Mobile Web

To Beat Google, Beat Google to the Mobile Web

When I read news this morning that AOL’s Platform-A would become the exclusive ad provider for Virgin Mobile’s 5 million subscribers, I started to think about where web advertising was headed. While it’s doubtful that we’ll be permanently ditching our PCs any time soon, it is clear that more and more time is being spent accessing the web via mobile devices. So it would follow that the mobile space is going to see a lot of ad money over the next few years (indeed, analysts predict just that).

We’ve reported that the mobile web is exploding in the US and that 58% of American adults are now using their mobile phones for things other than voice communication. The proliferation of the web on mobile and non-PC devices was one of the three big opportunities that Tim O’Reilly outlined in his keynote speech at the Web 2.0 Expo this year. One only has to look to Japan to see where mobile is heading in the future. There are more mobile web users in that country than there are PC based Internet users, and phones are used for everything from checking email to paying for train tickets.

So the mobile web is likely going to be a significant part of our future, which is good news for advertisers because there’s one other thing we’ve been learning about the mobile web: people using the web on mobile devices are much more likely to interact with advertising. According to one publisher average click through rates are 2-8% for banner and text ads. But more creative ads are seeing response rates as high as 29% on average.

Even though full web content is now 77% of that accessed on mobile (as opposed to under a quarter of mobile content via WAP), it seems clear that the type of traditional advertising that works on the web, isn’t the best fit for the mobile platform. Which brings me back to my original point: to beat Google, you have to beat Google at its own game. No, not search — well, okay, maybe search too — you have to beat Google at advertising. With so much advertising projected to shift to the mobile web over the next few years, the company that can corner the mobile web ad market is going to be able to go toe-to-toe with Google. Right now, it’s still wide open.

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