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Google’s Spring Clean Sees Admob Focus On Apps, Web Inventory Go To AdSense

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Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has been closing down a few properties of late in a “spring clean” of its vast portfolio of services — never mind that autumn is upon us — and it’s been doing some reorganization too.

One area that’s getting the once-over is the company’s mobile advertising operation: Google has announced that it is moving all of its mobile web advertising to AdSense, while Admob — the mobile ad company it bought last year for $750 million — will becomes Google’s “primary, specialized solution for app developers.”

The news was first revealed in a blog post by Clay Bavor, product management director for mobile ads at Google. He notes that the move is another change in the reorganization that saw AdSense transfer all of its apps inventory to Admob earlier this year.

Bavor notes that the transition will be somewhat gradual — Admob will continue to serve ads to older, WAP-based mobile web sites; that service will discontinue at the end of this month, on September 30.

HTML5-based mobile web publishers, meanwhile, will have a bit more time to make the move. In fact, Bavor doesn’t specify a specify hard stop for that service: “For sites and ads made to be viewed on high-end devices (like iPhones and Android phones), the AdMob product will be around for a little longer, but we wanted to give mobile web publishers plenty of time to start the transition,” he writes.

The move is not a surprising one, given that there may have been some confusion in the market over which platform to use for what end. Indeed, Bavor admits as much himself: “Some of our customers have asked us whether they should use AdMob or AdSense, since there’s some overlap between the two,” he writes. Putting all the web inventory under AdSense also makes sense for advertisers who are looking to create a converged campaign between their mobile web and basic internet services — and gives Google a bigger base from which to work.

But on the other hand, it seems to further the separation that has developed between the two mediums of mobile apps and the mobile web — a separation that has come to be known as “apps ‘versus’ the mobile web.”

The trend among many publishers seems to be to try to bring the two closer together, rather than further apart, by creating mobile web sites that behave “like apps”, often alongside apps that interface more with updated web content.

The idea of having to go to two different places to work out advertising inventory seems to counter that kind of convergence — and is a step back from what was originally one of the strong selling points for Admob in the first place.

At the end of May, to mark the one-year anniversary of Google’s acquisition, Admob said that it was working across a network of 80,000 apps and web sites. But it is unclear how those proportions break down. It may well have been small enough that Google didn’t think that it would be too much of a pain to shift them to AdSense.

What is perhaps more the case is that the change will leave Admob as potentially a much smaller operation: figures from the end of last year from IDC estimated that of the $1 billion that Google was making in mobile advertising in 2010, only about $150 million was coming from apps. With the continuing boom in apps, that may have changed but it’s unlikely that it can now be outbalancing mobile web revenues.

For those who have been using Admob for mobile web advertising, the change looks like it will signal more fuss for them:

“We know that these sorts of transitions can cause our customers some extra work,” he admits. But he goes on to claim that the transition will also give those advertisers better technology and reporting, and better revenue.

Admob has seen big growth in the last year. As of May of this year, Admob was serving 2.7 billion ad requests every day from mobile devices, three times the amount of traffic it was seeing a year before.

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