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Something new gains with something borrowed

08 июня 2009

As companies give mobile-phone advertising a try, many are starting to focus on the search ads that have worked so well on personal computers.

After years of sticking largely to mobile display or banner ads, such companies as Marriott International, Honda Motor and 1-800-FLOWERS.com have boosted their spending on mobile search ads. The ads can be targeted to specific consumer requests, and they are more easily measured and less intrusive, which some see as positives given the limited screen sizes on many mobile phones.

It is a pattern that has also played out in the PC world in recent years, as marketers have shifted more money toward search ads and away from areas like display ads.

This time, the trend is being driven by the growing adoption of high-end phones like Apple's iPhone that have full Web browsers and are being used to do everything from search for the nearest restaurant to make a hotel reservation.

"Clearly, we never expected [PC] search 10 years ago to have the power it has today," says Mara Hannula, vice president of marketing plans and programs at hotel chain Marriott International, which started buying mobile search ads last year."I expect that it will continue to be an important channel on mobile as well."

Revenue from advertising associated with search results on mobile phones is expected to rise to $129 million this year from $99 million in 2008, according to JP Morgan. That compares with $94 million for mobile display advertising this year.

The growing interest in mobile search ads benefits companies with Internet search businesses like Yahoo and particularly Google. Google, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the U.S. search-ad market, is now trying to make it easier for marketers to buy ads that show up when people search for everything from celebrities to restaurants using their phones.

Since December, the Internet search giant has updated its search advertising system to allow any advertiser that purchases regular search ads to automatically have those ads run on high-end mobile phones, like the iPhone or phones running Google's own Android software.

"We're seeing some nice, robust growth in mobile search," says Doug Garland, Google's vice president of product management for mobile and local ad products. The company doesn't disclose how much revenue it earns from mobile ads, but so far the amount isn't more than a rounding error.

Among the companies that have tried mobile search ads recently is Honda. The car company turned to mobile search earlier this year to advertise its used vehicles, bidding for its ads to appear when people search for terms like "used vehicle" on Google and Yahoo from a mobile device. Those who clicked on the sponsored listing were taken to a Web page that displayed a list of used cars for sale by location, formatted for a small screen.

"It's a promising volume and we'll be giving it more attention," says Mike Margolin, a vice president at RPA, the ad agency that worked on the campaign. He declined to comment on how much Honda spent on the program but says the ads were cheaper, on a cost per phone call or Web inquiry basis, than the search ads that ran on PCs for the same campaign.

1-800-FLOWERS.com has also increased its spending on mobile ads that appear when people search for gifts and flowers. A recent Google mobile search for "order flowers," for instance, revealed an ad prompting consumers to visit the company's mobile Web site or a 1-800 number to call for same-day delivery.

Still, it's too early to tell how the trend will play out. Some predict companies such as social-networking services will exploit features of mobile phones -- such as the fact that they can detect users' locations and send them alerts -- to develop faster ways for discovering information that could make their approach more popular than traditional search.

Marketers like Marriott and Papa John's International say they are also still spending on mobile display ads, trying to cut deals similar to the ones they have for search ads: They pay only when consumers click on an ad, instead of every time the ad is shown.

The marketers also note that the budgets they are committing to mobile search ads are relatively small and they are still figuring out the best strategies. Jim Ensign, vice president of marketing communications for Papa John's International, says that he is looking, for example, for more research on whether consumers react differently to the pizza chain's search ads on the phone than on the Web.


Источник: Total Telecom

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