Google seeks mobile insights

23 July 2012

NEW YORK: Google has seen "phenomenal" growth in the number of online search entries made from mobile phones and tablets, but does not yet know if these devices will be "incremental" or "cannibalistic".

Speaking on a quarterly conference call with analysts, Nikesh Arora, Google's chief business officer, reported that consumer behaviour was evolving rapidly in this space.

"Whether it's tablets, whether it's mobile phones, whether it's geographical or whatever, we are seeing phenomenal amounts of mobile queries across the board," he said.

The company also reported that over 1m brands now utilise its AdMob mobile advertising network, which covers 350m devices and 300,000 apps, which are primarily used on smartphones.

"Mobile is right now where search was in 1999," said Arora. He also predicted this medium would "sort of follow the trajectory that search has followed: more inventory, more effectiveness, more ROI for the advertisers, better pricing in the market."   

Susan Wojcicki, Google's SVP, advertising, added that consumer searches from wireless devices are generally incremental, as shown by the surge in uptake at weekends when people are "out and about", before desktop entries rise on Mondays.

However, she added that Google is "still in the process" of establishing whether tablet searches are incremental to those on smartphones, or whether the former devices cannibalise the latter.

"We're still doing the analysis on that," she said. "The thing that handsets and tablets have in common is they're both on the go and people are willing to take their mobile, people use tablet certainly in the office environment as well."

In responding to further questions on this subject, Arora suggested that this usage  may not constitute a major area of concern for advertisers.

"Usually people ... enrolled in mobile space don't distinguish between smartphones and tablets," he said. "They want to find the most effective ROI they can get, and they want to capture as many queries as you get on these devices."

To trap such trends internally, Google recently redesigned the Google+ app for the Android and iOS mobile operating systems, and created bespoke tools for users of tablets powered by this software.

Some 250m people have created a profile Google+, to date, and many log on via wireless gadgets. "More users are now accessing Google+ from mobile devices than from desktops," said Wojcicki. 

Data sourced from Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff