Yahoo Debuts Mobile Search Ads Beta

Web portal giant Yahoo has launched keyword-based advertising on its mobile search sites in the U.S. and U.K, following rival Google into a market that’s ripe for the picking.

The company debuted the new Mobile Sponsored Search product as a beta service offering advertisers text-based ads, an immediate wireless Web presence with a Yahoo-created landing page and a console to manage mobile marketing campaigns.

Yahoo’s push into the market comes less than a month after Google began testing ads on its mobile search interfaces in the U.S., U.K. and Germany and signals a major push to find eyeballs for advertisers on smart phones and Web-enabled devices.

According to tracking data from M:Metrics, Yahoo has the second largest mobile Web audience with roughly 3.8 million users, trailing only Google (4.5 million).

Yahoo did not release details on pricing for the cost-per-click service that launches initially with a “select group of advertisers.” As the beta phase progresses, Yahoo plans to expand the number of participating advertisers.

“Consumers will be able to click on the sponsored search results to go to the advertisers’ mobile Web site or a landing page to get more information about the advertisers’ offerings, including the ability to call the advertiser,” said Steve Boom, senior vice president of Yahoo’s mobile and broadband units.

Boom said test deployments in the U.K. and Japan were very successful, with strong advertiser demand and consumer engagement, pushing the company to expand the sponsored search listings to a wider audience.

Much like sponsored search on the Web, advertisers can develop text ad listings and campaigns for wireless devices and then set the price they are willing to pay when a user clicks on their ad.

Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., offers a Mobile Web service on all the major mobile operators in the U.S. and U.K. The browser-based service provides quick access to a range of offerings, including Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Messenger and Yahoo Search. It also shuttles mobile news, finance and sports-related content.