How much has mobile advertising taken off? Ask Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Mobile’s VP of Americas David Katz: “A year ago, we knew all of the advertisers and it was a big deal when we launched a campaign. Now there’s too many to keep track of.”
Katz made the comment while showing off the new Yahoo search on an iPhone that displayed a Red Lobster ad that he’d never seen before. The comment is a reflection of how much all mobile advertising providers have grown. Even as Apple’s iAd gets a lot of the credit, Katz said Yahoo’s graphically rich ads have also become popular. It has partnered with both Medialets and Crisp Wireless to make the creatives. For instance, when you tapped on a True Blood ad for the Showtime series, a bloody fingerprint showed up on the screen, and then blood drips down the page. Other ads asked you to shake the phone or play video.
This week at CTIA, Yahoo announced new applications for Android, including Finance, OMG (it’s entertainment news property), and a new Yahoo search widget. It has 11 Android apps in total. It also announced yesterday that it had created an app pack for Sprint’s new ID service that let’s brands and media properties create skins for Sprint’s Android devices. Katz said the goal is to try and hit mobile hard by building apps and mobile web sites internally and by providing APIs to developers to make mobile widgets. “Yahoo’s mobile point of view is that we are a content and services company and its all about driving traffic back to our properties,” he said.
Part of Yahoo’s scale will come with the help of its search partnership with Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT). Already, Yahoo has migrated its back-end search technology over to Bing in the U.S. for the desktop, but also for mobile too. While Yahoo’s branding is still all in place, at the end of every search page, it says in small print “Powered by Bing.” Katz said sponsored search links will be moved over later this quarter as part of the same plan for the desktop. Together, Katz explained that Microsoft’s and Yahoo’s combined marketplace will be much larger, creating more competition for keywords.
Whether that will change Microsoft’s or Yahoo’s ranking in mobile search, Katz wasn’t so sure. Even together, the two wouldn’t be as big as Google (NSDQ: GOOG). Based on Nielsen statistics from last year, Yahoo ranked No. 2 in mobile search, Microsoft ranked No. 4 and Google had a commanding lead in first.
It’s also hard to ignore all of the management changes that have been taking place at Yahoo, including the departure of David Ko, who was Yahoo’s SVP of audience, mobile and local, and has subsequently was hired at Zynga. Katz now reports to Raymond Stern, who heads up mobile.