Google Mobile Advertising: It's Time to Start

I'm going to switch gears starting this week and cover an aspect of PPC advertising that will become increasingly important to every advertiser: mobile advertising. I'll start with some background to help you understand that the mobile advertising channel is already big and getting bigger. To do so, I'll need to help you through a "paradigm shift" (as we used to say in the '90s).

Step 1 in your Mobile epiphany is to put aside the notion that "mobile advertising" = "cell phone advertising." While the latter is a subset of the former, consider this:

  1. All phones will eventually be "Smartphones" -- essentially handheld computers. In a sense, this is already true -- nearly every cell phone includes more computing power than the first few generations of personal computers.
  2. For most people on the planet, their first -- and only -- Internet-enabled personal computer will be their phone. They will own a handheld computer that they may have bought because of their needs for portable voice communication. Since this device can perform all the functions of a personal computer, at a relatively lower price, there will be no need for most people to buy a desktop or laptop PC. Skeptical? Consider the fact that, for over a billion people today, their cell phone camera is the first camera they've ever owned -- and the only camera that they will ever own.
  3. The tiny-screen problem will become irrelevant. Many advertisers and pundits argue that the restrictions of a small screen will always be a barrier to effective advertising. Ready for another paradigm shift? Start thinking of mobile computers as devices that can be attached to any available peripheral devices. Future mobile computers equipped with some version of hyper-Bluetooth or wireless USB will be able to utilize monitors, keyboards, and other peripherals without direct connections or messy setup. People who want the convenience of a larger screen, a larger-sized keyboard, or printers will be able to sit down at a desk and start typing. They won't even need to take the mobile computer out of their pocket.

But what if they're not in the office -- no monitor or keyboard available? No problem. Next year, manufacturers will start shipping cell phones (mobile computers) with built-in projection displays:

Any flat surface can become a large-screen monitor. Even further out: projection of both the display and the keyboard -- like this prototype unveiled by NEC four years ago:

At the risk of wandering too far out into the weeds of the future, consider that most mobile phones/computers will include GPS capabilities, and you'll begin to see the implications for advertising -- not to mention data privacy, social interaction, entertainment, etc.

Little wonder that Google CEO Eric Schmidt said last week "...mobile advertising [will” generate more revenue than advertising on today's Web."

But back to 2008: starting next week, I'll fill you in on the capabilities and best practices you can/should be using today to reach mobile computing users via Google Mobile advertising. Want to get a head start? Read this Google mobile ad FAQ, Google's Mobile Blog, and this excellent site and newsletter from my friend Jim Cook.

Think I'm right about the future of mobile advertising -- or is the whole category a non-starter? Send me comments and questions, or post them in the Search Engine Watch Forum's Content Advertising thread.