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Google tackles app discoverability, repeat usage with new search formats

As the mobile application ecosystem continues to grow, it is providing both challenges and opportunities for marketers, something Google wants to address with the introduction of several new mobile search ad formats.

Google introduced the new search ad formats to enhance access to the information consumers are looking for on mobile devices. They include in-app ads as well as mobile search ads that direct users to an app installed on their phone.

"This is exciting news for developers and marketers," said Surojit Chatterjee, senior product manager for mobile ads at Google. "We're bringing the worlds of search and apps together in some new and useful ways.

"Marketers have new ways to reach consumers with relevant advertising, and developers will be able to build their businesses and make money with mobile ads," he said. 

:Mobile search volume has grown fivefold in the last two years.  We're seeing lots of momentum with mobile search advertising right now at Google and this is a significant step forward."

Search, apps, mobile
Mobile is a growing area for Google, Moutain View, CA, which recently said that it expects to bring in $2.5 billion from mobile advertising over the next year, driven by bigger and more frequent mobile search campaigns (see story).

The new ad formats bring together search, apps and mobile advertising. Custom Search Ads will run in apps that lets users search for information such as a nearby restaurant and give marketers a way to deliver relevant ads, such as for a nearby restaurant.

The new click to download format helps consumers when they are searching for information about an app and will link directly to the App Store or Android Marketplace to download an app.

Mobile app extensions direct users to a page within a mobile app already installed on their phone. For example, someone searching for sneakers on a mobile device could see an ad that links directly to a shopping app installed on the phone.

Earlier this month, Google began testing a new ad format with Best Buy and Macy?s that lets marketers serve ads containing photos of relevant products and special offers that users can email to their mobile phones so they can walk into a local store and redeem the offer.

Mobile content consumption
The news comes as the number of mobile applications continues to grow.

There are currently over 250,000 apps in the Android Marketplace and over 500,000 in the iTunes App Store.

Marketers have expressed concern over issues around the growth such as the difficulty getting an app discovered and the need to find ways to bring consumers back to an app past the initial download.

?Google is a clear leader in online search and it is natural to expect a strong push into mobile, however there will be many alternative monetization channels on mobile as its early days and lots of companies are entering the space,? said Kunal Gupta, CEO of Polar Mobile, Toronto.

?Mobile content consumption is rocketing right now and developers, brands and publishers will need to continue to innovate on monetization models,? he said. ?The models that work -- or don't work -- online need to be evolved to remain relevant for mobile devices.?

At the Mobile Shopping Fall conference this week, marketers such as Barnes & Noble discussed how it is getting tougher for an app to be found by mobile users. Discoverability has become a growing problem as the number of available has grown significantly (see story). 

App search advertising is growing area to address both discoverability and monetization for apps.

App search engine Chomp recently launch a private beta advertising program that allows developers to bid on keywords which will deliver their ads when users search on those terms within an app search engine.

Merchants also see an opportunity here. This week, Best Buy introduced the Best Buy App Discovery Center, which offers recommendations on apps, search results and an app directory.

The service is available now on bestbuy.con/apps and will be coming to the Best Buy iOS and Android apps.

Google custom search ads in mobile apps could help devleopers grow their mobile businesses by delivering relevant ads to users.

"There are wide variety of mobile apps that have customized search functionalities - price comparison apps, apps that help people find a restaurant, buy a flight, find a store," Mr. Chatterjee said.

"Ultimately, ads are information - ways for consumers to find what they need quickly and easily.  These ads will help provide people with relevant, useful answers within apps that offer custom search."

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York