Google will dominate self-service advertising for mobile text and display ads

Google’s announcement of the AdMob acquisition was a spectacular day for the mobile marketing industry. Having been in mobile marketing for almost 10 years, I think a $750 million acquisition clearly answers the questions: “When will mobile marketing take off?”

It’s been a while since we have seen a meaningful acquisition in mobile. EA’s purchase of Jamdat, and Verisign’s acquisition of M-Qube were really the last two game changing moments in mobile.

Google’s move underlines the importance of mobile in their long term strategy. They own search, they own maps, and now they own mobile display. Many folks in the industry also have high hopes on the next generation of Android devices. If Android takes off, Google would own the entire mobile value chain in certain instances.

This begs the question: “What are the entrepreneurial opportunities in mobile marketing?”

I see three fields that have not been fully solved:


Yes: Google has maps and folks like Yelp have the local content, but who will bring thousands of small local advertisers to the table. Nokia’s Navteq unit might be one of the contenders, or perhaps a hard-core customer acquisition company with feet on the street. Either way, if someone figures out how to bring thousands of location specific advertisers to the table, it will increase the revenue pie.

Premium Advertising

Google was already paying decent prices to their (handful of) mobile publishers. Now with Admob’s advertisers on board, they will likely dominate remnant mobile text and mobile display. However, premium, targeted mobile ads are just starting to take off. Players like Quattro Wireless are well positioned to monetize premium inventory. The challenge is that premium advertising is very hands on. Can specialized mobile players excel in an industry dominated by large advertising agencies? TBD


Over the next few months we will see a surge of new mobile ad-networks coming online. Players like Mojiva will enable hundreds of entrepreneurs (if-Admob-can-do-it-so-can-I-players), and advertising executives to start their own niche ad-network. This means that publisher will be overwhelmed. Who should they work with, who will monetize their inventory… Mediation layers (mobile ad optimization companies) enable publishers to work with multiple networks at the same time. In essence they help to route the traffic to the most appropriate monetization source. Smaato, AdMarvel, and Nexage are the three most prominent players in this segment.

Let me know what you think the next big mobile marketing opportunities are.

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