Some time back, NYTimes reported “Cell Phone Ads May Take Off Soon”. With the increasing speculation about the existence of the fabled Gphone or Google phone, it is perhaps only a matter of time that this becomes a reality.
I think advertisers would be gleaming at the thought of highly contextual and targeted advertising sent directly to cell phones, 24X7. Not to mention the ability to know a lot more about you and tailoring the ads based on the wealth of information that the cell phone providers collect about us (assuming Google has some partnerships with existing carriers) .
The reason why Google’s advertising model is so successful is due to the simplicity of text ads. So, I feel the model that would finally win in cell phone ads business would be one that makes advertising seamless and unobtrusive.
One approach would be to provide advertisements alongside services. An idea that I have been thinking about is to do with SMS – In many places like India and Europe, SMS is a cheaper and convenient way to communicate. One problem however is that on a a cell phone one can only store a limited number of SMS. If Google was to have an archiving system for SMS (something like GMail for SMS) – that would be a great way to serve ads while making it least obtrusive and probably even useful to people. With the recent acquisition of GrandCentral, we can see how this might easily plug-in with their existing infrastructure, including voicemail, call forwarding and mapping multiple phone to a single number. Being able to access regular Gmail accounts from cell phones also means more clickthroughs for ads.
However, these are still very small pieces of the pie. The big chunk is in search. Google Phone will have search features that let you find information from the Web and more perhaps even local information. This would almost certainly open up a whole new set of possible enhancements. Wouldn’t searching for information on the go be different from looking up stuff from a computer — almost certainly so. For one, we want quick excerpts and possibly the results and advertisements might be dependent on the location (like a local bar or information on the historical monument while walking down a street).
Finally, the most recent patent by Google is on SMS payments. This is really interesting, since it could integrate with Google checkout and when buying stuff using your Google phone, you dont need to re-enter your information all the time.
Whatever the advertising approach would be, in the end its the consumers who would be reaping the ultimate benefits. I feel, Google phone would really shake up the monopolistic hold that cell phone providers have on US mobile market segment right now!
[Acknowledgment: image from Om Mailik’s blog]