Watered-Down AdSense for Mobile

Google AdSense for mobile officially rolled out this week. As a not-evil mega-corporation, Google has opted current AdWords advertisers into the mobile network for the next two months, free of charge.

That’s very nice of Google, I’d say. It would be nicer, however, if AdSense for mobile weren’t a waste of time.

The way I see it, there are four very basic components necessary to find success on the mobile web:

  1. A potential customer – there are lots of those
  2. A potential customer who uses his cell phone to access the internet – less of those
  3. A mobile-enabled website for this potential customer to access – less of those
  4. A potential customer willing to make a conversion on the mobile web – 20 of those? 200? 2,000?

Based on this, the potential customer base is probably fairly small. A successful mobile campaign would require a lot of effort for small potential reward. Kind of like running up an escalator. Or competing on Ninja Warrior.

Beyond that, mobile ad real estate is quite limited, to the point where only about 70 characters of ad text will be displayed. Not 35 characters for Line One, and 35 more for Line Two, plus a headline and a display URL. 70 total characters. This leaves space for, essentially, a headline and a display URL. Compelling calls-to-action need not apply.

Essentially, a small potential customer base, and limited capacity to communicate with it.

And very rapidly, of course, the mobile web is becoming obsolete. Anyone who is truly interested in using a cell phone to access the internet has long-since purchased an iPhone, whether they paid $600 or $400 for it, and whether they waited in line for three days or 30 minutes.

And, as Apple will very clearly tell you, the iPhone doesn’t provide you with “some watered-down internet.” It’s the real internet. HTML, friends, not .wap.

The only way I can see AdSense for mobile ever actually being worth the effort of creating and managing a well-optimized campaign is if it’s the only way to access a mobile web customer using the long-rumored gPhone. But Google’s not evil, so they wouldn’t act like a monopoly.

Right? Hmm.