Shorting The Mobile Advertising Business

Yesterday Apple launched its new mobile advertising product called iAds.

Steve Jobs explained why Apple will be offering the inline advertising via apps as opposed to trying to duplicate a search ad product like Google’s by saying “People aren’t searching on a mobile device like they are on a desktop device.”

While his comments illustrate the present reality of search usage on mobile phones, it also begs the question: Why would mobile users use search on their mobiles en masse any way?

My prediction – there won’t be much more significant search usage even as smart phones achieve deeper market penetration.

Yes, there may be a huge installed base of iPhone owners but just because there is doesn’t mean the mobile audience will be worth much to advertisers whether search or display.

I know Google is trying to get AdMob bought and Apple bought their own mobile advertising company recently, but I think the Google transaction was simply a defensive one – to keep AdMob out of Apple’s hands while also getting their arms around the largest mobile display advertising platform.

To put this in perspective, Google’s offer price for adMob is greater than the entire mobile advertising industry’s present annual sales according to eMarketer.

Mobile may appear to be a promising display advertising platform and channel to both Google and Apple just because of its audience size, however I predict the mobile advertising business both search and display will fail to meet Google’s, Apple’s and their collective advertisers expectations even more so than social media advertising has failed to live up to its hype.


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