Google: Mobile search ad requests doubled in 2011

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) reports its December 2011 mobile search ad request volume more than doubled compared to December 2010 figures. Google lead product manager for mobile search ads Surojit Chatterjee tells TechCrunch that mobile search has grown five-fold worldwide during the past two years, a rate comparable to the formative days of Google Search on the desktop.

Chatterjee states that the quality of search ads is on the rise, crediting factors like an upswing in mobile-optimized websites. Since August 2011, the number of Google AdWords advertisers with mobile-optimized sites has grown by more than 50 percent. Proximity is also an increasingly important factor in mobile search ads ranking--Chatterjee notes that the distance between a consumer and an advertiser's business location directly impacts how an AdWords ad performs on mobile devices.

Chatterjee goes on to say that more than half a million active advertisers now integrate click-to-call capabilities into their mobile ads, with Google seeing 10 million calls per month originating via click-to-call ads on search and the Google Display Network. Chatterjee adds that Google continues to work on delivering more relevant mobile ad formats and user experiences, with increasing attention paid to tablet ad approaches.

Google earns an estimated 95 percent of all U.S. mobile search ad revenues according to a recent eMarketer report. The research firm estimates U.S. mobile search advertising more than doubled in 2011 as spending rose to $652.5 million, up from $253.2 million the previous year. eMarketer expects advertisers will spend $1.28 billion on mobile search ads in the current year.

Total mobile advertising spending in the U.S. reached $1.45 billion in 2011, an 89 percent increase over 2010 spending of $769.6 million, eMarketer reports. The firm anticipates nationwide mobile ad spending will grow another 80 percent in 2012, eclipsing $2.6 billion.

Google is on pace to generate 2012 mobile advertising revenues in excess of $4 billion according to a forecast issued last month by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. Basing his estimates on Google's growing footprint across its own Android mobile operating system as well as its rival, Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, Munster forecasts the company's mobile ad business will grow from $2.5 billion in 2011 revenues and $1 billion a year earlier.

"On the advertising side, one source shows that Android is doing well as a percentage of mobile ad impressions on their network, which we believe makes sense since a greater portion of Android apps are free versus paid," Munster wrote in a research note. He adds that with Android now topping 50 percent market share worldwide, the OS "ultimately becomes the biggest platform for mobile advertising both for Google and the industry."

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