Google Tests Mobile Ads in U.S. and Europe, JumpTap Jumps In

Google is testing ads on its mobile search interfaces in the U.S., U.K. and Germany a spokesperson has confirmed. The deal is similar to a pilot the company began testing in Japan earlier this year.

Separately, white label mobile search player JumpTap has launched a mobile search index and auction-based ad platform to monetize search traffic for its carrier clients. Mobile operators use the service to provide on-deck search functions to their subscribers.

Pricing of Google’s mobile ads product is similar to that of the company’s keyword bidding platform for regular Internet search, according to an AdWords FAQ on the subject. Marketers fix their maximum cost-per-click (CPC). Smart pricing doesn’t apply and conversion tracking isn’t currently available. All mobile search ads are subject to human editorial review.

Among the providers of branded mobile search, Google has the largest audience with approximately 4.5 million users on average during each off the last three months, according to M:Metrics. Yahoo’s mobile search offering trails slightly behind, at 3.8 million. MSN and AOL have far smaller mobile reach, 1.1 million and 700,000 users, respectively.

M:Metrics doesn’t break out the share of search owned by white label search services like JumpTap. The company’s VP of Marketing Eric McCabe claims search services on the carrier decks account for approximately a third of all search traffic. He said their share of the market is set to rise as carriers push the search interface more front and center on the handset interfaces.

JumpTap’s new search index and ad platform, unveiled today, offer both paid and unpaid means for marketers to get their content and offers in front of wireless subscribers. Paid ad products include CPC text listings, banner units, landing page creation and interstitials. Free services for mobile site operators include optimization and inclusion services such as XML feeds.

The paid advertising portion of the platform is similar to an AdWords or Yahoo Search bidding interface. McCabe: “We have our own bidding interface. People can go in and bid for mobile specific keywords, and those will get incorporated as sponsored links at the top or bottom of [search results].

McCabe said the early advertisers on JumpTap’s platform are likely to be mobile content providers, such as ringtones and wallpapers, both often sold directly through the handset interface. Other likely advertisers in the space are regional businesses, though as with other forms of local online advertising, raising their awareness of the mobile channel and the option to advertise there remains an obstacle.

Both Google and JumpTap sit on the Mobile Marketing Association’s Mobile Search Committee.