Google Attempts to Redefine the Mobile Market

Last week Google announced it’s no longer allowing advertisers to target desktop and mobile users separately within AdWords. Baking mobile into desktop means a major simplification to how advertisers track and manage campaigns, which in turn means CPCs for both channels will become the same. Additionally, consumers could potentially receive marketing content in non-optimized formats.

In effect, Google is removing some of the choices for advertisers who want to target different devices or operating systems and forcing everyone to pay more for mobile inventory, which typically commands a lower CPC than desktop inventory.

Brand advocates, marketing managers and tech enthusiasts alike are unified in their response: The market isn’t ready for this kind of change, even as Google squeezes more money out of advertisers while limiting the controls they have over managing their campaigns.

As part of the explanation for the change, Google has pointed to the general increase in time spent on mobile devices, which in turn has forced advertisers to cobble together and compare several different campaigns. While this is true on some level, and mobile and desktop are steadily moving towards a point of convergence, they simply aren’t there yet.

Marketers and publishers have different goals and business models for desktop and mobile, and many are still working out a mobile strategy.  Forcing their hand has the potential to cause adverse effects for the advertising ecosystem.

According to a new report, only 16 percent of marketers (out of 250 surveyed globally) have even developed a mobile strategy aimed at building customer engagement, and only 14 percent are satisfied with the way their brands are accessing and leveraging mobile.  The fact remains that advertisers have plenty more work to do optimizing both their content and their strategies before the market reaches a level of maturity indicative of Google’s rationale.

At Outbrain, our philosophy is that buyers should have choices when it comes to where their campaigns run so they can better derive the most value and provide users and publishers with device-optimized experiences.  Ultimately, these campaign levers can result in better ROI for marketers and the best experience for end users.

The industry as a whole is working hard to adapt to the rapid shift from desktop to mobile, but until the convergence between the two worlds is more complete, the more transparent and flexible the system, the better for all parties.

Bryan Christman

Bryan Christman is Director of Mobile at Outbrain. He works closely with business, account management and product teams as the Glo...Read More

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  • Curtman40| March 13, 2013 at 10:22PM

    Mobile marketing is still in its infancy it would be interesting to me on how small businesses can leverage this technology.

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