Google Inc. has quietly begun testing AdWords for mobile devices allowing customers to place clickable links in listings retrieved through the search engine's mobile service in the United States and the United Kingdom.
AdWords customers can create their own mobile advertisements and marketing campaigns. They also can set daily budgets, establish scheduled marketing messages, and only pay when consumers call the business or click the ad.
The text ads appear when a user searches on a mobile device using Google's search engine. They can contain up to two lines of text, between 12 and 18 characters per line.
Businesses purchase the ads through the AdWords interface, and must have either a mobile Web site for pay-per-click ads, or a toll-free phone number for pay-per-call ads.
Mobile advertising could draw in local consumers looking for certain types of businesses. "It works if you're strolling through the Web on your phone looking for a local pizza place," said Emily Riley, advertising analyst at JupiterResearch. "Within the U.S. market, there's not a lot of room yet for effective online ads that take you outside the local market. Most people have small screens on their phone and get annoyed dealing with anything other than geo-targeted ads."
Mobile marketing firm Third Screen Media has seen explosive growth in the past eight months. Today, the company has more than 100 million available "ad impressions, for purchase where companies can buy space, generally one ad per page, up from 35 million in December 2005, according to COO Jeff Janer.
Google's move of AdWords to the mobile phone adds credibility to the space, Janer said. "There are about 200 million mobile subscribers in the U.S.," he said. "The figures we see that about 10 to 20 percent are using their data plan to browse the mobile Internet on any given month."
It's those people the advertising and the marketing agencies look to reach. They're doing it with banner ads, Janer said. Third Screen Media, which supports well-known brands like USA Today, CBS SportsLine, and TV Guide, as well as Lenovo, Burger King and American Express in the past, plans to make some announcements next week at the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) in Los Angeles.
Mobile advertising might have gained acceptance with Google's waltz into the space, but challenges remain. Janer said companies are still vetting "a fundamental business model." Since carriers like Cingular, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile make it easier for subscribers to reach content they will expect a cut in the ad revenue.