Google vs Apple mobile ads: it is on

9 Apr 2010

There is no disputing the fact that Google reigns supreme when it comes to online advertising – in January 2009 it had 76pc of the US search advertising market – but the announcement of the Apple OS 4.0 software update has brought with it a brand new mobile ad platform to challenge the status quo.

While Google Mobile Ads allows developers to monetise their apps through in-app ads comprising of text or an image, what happens when a user clicks on this ad is that they are brought out of their application and to the advertisers’ website. Not ideal.

iAd will be a game changer

Apple’s new iAd platform is probably going to be a game changer. Leaving aside Apple’s exuberant claims that it “combines the emotion of TV ads with the interactivity of web ads” what is really happening here is that in-app advertising will no longer be distracting, intrusive and most importantly will not take the user out of their current application if they click on it.

The problem with in-app mobile ads right now, as Apple sums it up, is that “users must then navigate back to their app, and it is often difficult or impossible to return to exactly where they left.”

What iAd does is display full-screen video and interactive ad content without ever leaving the app, letting users return to their app any time they choose.

It also makes it easier for developers to drop ads into their applications, with 60pc of ad revenue going into their pockets.

‘Search is not where it’s at’

While Google’s advertising empire is built on search, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has declared that when it comes to the mobile device, “search is not where it’s at”.

“People are not searching on a mobile device like they are on the desktop,” he told reporters at yesterday’s Apple event.

As reported in the New York Times, Google spokesperson Carolyn Penner stated that Google Mobile Ads were doing well, growing to five times bigger than it was two years ago due to smart-phones users searching the web between 30 and 50 times more often than regular handset users.

This may be the case, but with more than 10,000 apps available on the App Store and 3bn applications downloaded in less than 18 months as of January 2010, the market size for iAd is potentially huge so the smart-phone money is on Apple.

By Marie Boran

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