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Can Google translate search expertise to succeed in mobile display?

Search giant Google's launch of AdSense for Mobile Applications is destined to contribute to the growth of mobile marketing and the app development industry.

Smartphones have revolutionized consumers' daily lives. Because of the economic slowdown, the fact that smartphones offer lower prices, faster network speeds and unlimited data plans means that people often reach for their mobile phone rather than their computer.

"Google entering mobile advertising vis-à-vis AdSense for iPhone mobile apps is further validation of the viability and opportunity in the mobile advertising space," said Mack McKelvey, vice president of marketing at Millennial Media, Baltimore, MD.

"Google has historically been focused on search, therefore, we anticipate little impact initially in the mobile display sector," she said. "That being said, it will be interesting to see if Google can translate their search expertise into benefits for mobile display."

AdSense for Mobile Applications allows developers to earn revenue by displaying text and image ads in their iPhone and Android applications.

Mobile applications have recently become more and more popular, helping people find music, make restaurant reservations, find useful information and even check bank balances.

Google's entrance into the mobile advertising space is meant to help advertisers looking for ways to reach potential customers engaging with mobile content.

Google claims it has had a successful trial of this service with a small number of partners.

"At a high level, Google's AdSense for Mobile definitely opens up a new pathway for advertisers to reach mobile consumers who are engaging with these apps," said Neil Strother, Kirkland, WA-based analyst for Forrester Research.

"The service affords app developers to make some money and monetize through advertising in some way," he said.

Mr. Strother did question whether branded applications would make use of Google's AdSense for Mobile Applications.

"If you're a brand that already has a mobile app, you already have that one to one connection, and I am not sure if it opens up a new pathway for them," Mr. Strother said. "Potentially, but I am not sure that a brand like Sears would allow consumers using the app to view advertising from other brands."

For the beta launch of AdSense for Mobile Application, Google created a site where developers can learn more about the AdSense for Mobile Applications program, see answers to frequently asked questions and sign up to participate in the beta.

Advertisers can also learn about the benefits of advertising in mobile applications.

Mr. Strother said that marketers need to understand that applications are important, but they should not serve as substitutions for mobile Web site and WAPs with advertising.

"The landscape is open in terms of delivery of ads on mobile, so others could do the same for sure, but they may not have the same experience or scale that Google has," Mr. Strother said.

"Google has a lot to leverage from the online side as well, which gives them obvious connections to existing advertisers," he said.