Scott over at the Self Made Minds blog is reporting that he got an email invite to a new Google Adsense for Mobile beta and it looks pretty authentic. This is the move that many of us in the mobile industry have been waiting for. Sure, there's been advertising up until now by Google and Yahoo! and others, but in terms of a self-serve model for the small publisher, there's really been only one player, and that's our friends over at AdMob who've had over a year and a half lead time and have made the most of it. But wow, the 800lb gorilla that everyone has been waiting for has finally arrived, and it's going to be very interesting to see what comes next.
The good thing is that this is bound to spur mobile-specific content as content producers will have a well-known way to monetize their sites. The bad news is that it's going to strengthen Google's already outsized grip on the Direct To Consumer mobile market. I've got two mobile sites and I can tell you, Google drives the majority of the traffic. I get indexed by the mobile bot versions of Yahoo!, Microsoft, JumpTap, Ask, and others, and yet all of them together don't drive 1/5th of the traffic that Google Search does - GOOG just completely owns the mobile web. When I screwed up my DNS stuff a couple months ago and stopped being indexed in the mobile search results by the googlebot, my traffic went down by 90% overnight. I mean, it just fell off the face of the earth.
Now with AdSense for Mobile, many many sites are going to depend on Google even that much more, as they are bound to capitalize on their massive lead in the web market to leverage their way into the mobile market. And hey, if you haven't been paying attention to the pieces moving around on the board, let me give you a few clues you can use to figure out what's their gameplan is: Google Checkout for Mobile, Google Adsense and Google Base. Do you see it? Think about it, I'll wait. See? It won't matter if your site is mobile or not, if you want to advertise to mobile users, Google will be able to provide you a quick and easy way to do it - and they'll own the entire mobile ad process from click through to checkout. That's going to be pretty hard to compete against.
Anyways, though my loyalty is to AdMob (who helps buy me groceries right now), I will of course be modifying the Mowser Content Adapter to incorporate mobile Adsense as soon as I can see what they're doing. This will work like the AdMob header does now, letting any site that uses AdSense and passes through the adapter for viewing on a phone to be able to monetize that content, regardless of what type of device a viewer is using. This is assuming the Ad-code IDs are the same. If not, I'll have to figure out some sort of DB matching the two up. (How evil would it be for GOOG to mix up the IDs so that only they could automatically pull this trick off using their in-house transcoder? Hmm, we'll have to wait and see...).
So interesting times are definitely ahead for the mobile web. At this point, I have to say, it's really Google against everyone else and I'm not very excited with our odds.