Google will start serving regular AdWords placements to its mobile search users, which will be bought through the existing AdWords interface.
A year after it began testing paid listings on its mobile search product, Google has opened AdWords generally to Google Mobile Search. Keyword management is integrated with the existing AdWords interface, and advertisers will automatically have their listings delivered on the mobile platform unless they request otherwise.
"What's different here is we are taking AdWords text ads, intended for Google.com, and automatically converting them to text ads when a user searches on Google from their mobile device. In this way, advertisers don't need to select a separate mobile campaign, although they still can, but instead can be connected to potential customers whether they are using Google on their PC or mobile device," a Google spokesperson said.
Matt Naeger, VP and general counsel at Impaqt, believes marketers with a local bent will benefit from the AdWords extension.
"Clients are always looking for new channels, a way to broaden search activity," he said. "In the past we tried to target location-based clients through geotargeting. Being able to do that on the mobile phone is pretty powerful for local-based services, as well as professional services firms."
Other industry networks prefer to sit on the sidelines until mobile search becomes more established. "It's definitely a move that's ahead of it's time," said Simon Chernin, marketing director at PPC ad network ABCSearch. He counters the move is necessary for Google, but perhaps not yet time for ABCSearch clients to dip their toes into AdWords mobile. "They've got to get started sometime, overall, I feel it's premature for the marketplace."
Though it will help Google grow distribution and build advertiser awareness of its mobile search product, the integration of Web and mobile ads may have even participating SEM buyers upset. "I would prefer if it were a separate interface, but I understand why they're doing it," said Naeger.
Google will run listings free on Google Mobile Search pages through November 18. As of November 19, SEM buyers will have to opt out through the campaign summary page or pay for mobile clicks. While it is said ads will run across both the Web and mobile platforms, an e-mail sent to AdWords customers indicated that only ads with landing pages adaptable to mobile handsets will qualify for disbursement to the mobile search product.
Whether effective Web search ads will perform well in a mobile environment is an open question. Mobile users search for different reasons than Web users, something SEM firms have learned through early tests on Google and other platforms. Impaqt plans to take advantage of creating different copy and link strategies that will conform to the size constraints mobile requires. "In the mobile version, you have 10 or 18 characters of space, a smaller set of characters, and [the ad] has to be more targeted," Naeger said.
Concerns over screen real estate and accidental clicks may keep some advertisers in the opt-out camp. "People are going to be clicking accidentally, people click an ad and it charges the advertiser two dollars. If navigation is limited, there can be a lot of fruitless clicks," said Chernin. He also said an ad that takes up a third of the screen could be mistaken for content. "You have 19 inches at home, and one and a half inches on the phone. Not as much free grazing as on the desktop," he said.
In cases where text ads are already running on Google Mobile Search pages, Google's quality scores remain unaffected, and made-for-mobile text ads automatically win against desktop text ads in a keyword auction, according to an FAQ in the Google AdWords help center.
On the whole, Impaqt's Naeger sees the new Web/mobile search ad integration as beneficial. "I think it's a great opportunity to expand out on a different behavior set for the consumer and connect with the mobile audience," he said. "It will change how people are interacting with directory assistance and SMS programs, It's a good step for advertisers as well as users."
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