Why mobile advertising is still anyone’s ballgame

Today’s must-read comes via The Wall Street Journal, which takes a look at how Google is searching for a role in the age of mobile apps. Google’s web-crawling spiders have trouble navigating the siloed world of mobile apps, Rolfe Winkler writes, making it much more difficult to track users’ actions within those apps to deliver highly targeted ads. The dominant online search engine is experimenting with deep links that lead users inside an app rather than to a web page, but those links are only being seen on Android devices, and Google has yet to sell ads alongside the links as it does on the web. Google is following the lead of Facebook, which has seen success with the “app install ads” it launched 18 months ago.

Indeed, Facebook’s mobile ad business has exploded thanks largely to those app install ads: eMarketer estimates the social network’s share of the worldwide mobile ad network more than tripled from 2012 to 2013, reaching nearly 17 percent last year. Meanwhile, Google remains the dominant player with 48.76 percent of the market, according to eMarketer. The mobile ad world will evolve very quickly over the next few years as new technologies emerge and the internet of things gets legs, and as advertisers get better at leveraging analytics. As Facebook’s recent success demonstrates, an innovative player can reshape the landscape very quickly.