Advertisers Should Monetize Mobile Search Before Content

eMarketer recently released a ra-ra forecast for the advertising technology industry: the company predicts ad revenue from ad-supported mobile content will grow roughly 10 TIMES, from $156 millon to $1.07 billion between 2010 and 2015. Cue the Queen soundtrack and high-fives all around, right?

Now think about all the ads we play whack-a-mole to avoid on mobile games like Words with Friends. 

While the advent of ad-supported content will not (and should not) stop, advertisers should really maximize spend on mobile search and local search before making significant investments in sponsoring/advertising on mobile content. I hope this is a no-brainer, but eMarketer’s predictions could throw marketers off the trail of truly valuable interactions: those that are rich in expressions of what consumers are interested in at any given moment.



Whack-a-Mole, Elaborated

When I’m playing Words with Friends (which is more often than I’d like to admit), I don’t care to learn about healthcare, the latest Charlize Theron indie flick, or even Zynga’s other games. What I want to do is play a game. The ads and sponsored content on these ad-supported games are not offering me anything of value and are not relevant (with one exception that I will reveal in a moment). If I’m like other consumers, these ad dollars are largely wasted. If marketers want to chalk up these ads to building brand and awareness, I guess that’s their prerogative, but there are far more effective channels.

For example, I conduct a lot of mobile searches: using Bing mobile (I like the pretty pictures) or other apps, I’m always looking for something to read, some new music to listen to, or the best deal on a Le Creuset Dutch oven. The advertisers (Le Creuset now on sale at Bloomingdale’s!) that can serve me ads during these searches are MUCH more likely to see my business, either online or in-store.

Why? Because ads served at the time of query are more relevant and valuable to me (and consumers in general), which makes them more valuable for the advertiser. These ads are not interruptions in my experience, but a valuable provider of information. These ads help me achieve my objective because they are aligned with my intent.

Get ‘em While They’re Hot

The early adopters in advertising technology usually enjoy a lengthy amount of time where there isn’t much competition, so market share and revenue generated by new channels can be high. With the big search publishers releasing new tools for mobile and local search advertising, NOW is the time to be investing in mobile search advertising to take advantage of lighter competition.

The only exception to my suggestion depends on the answer to this question marketers should ask themselves: “Is this sponsorship or ad placement relevant to the consumer’s expressed intent?” If the answer is yes, buy away. The best ad placement I’ve seen on my iPhone was a Bing search app ad while playing Words with Friends. The ad was an interactive memory game, which fit my mood and intent to be playing games at the time. The result? I downloaded the Bing app and use it regularly.

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