Mobile phone subscrip­tions have grown and continue to grow at a stag­ger­ing rate, glob­ally.   While low-end “feature phones” continue to pene­trate devel­op­ing economies, smart­phones (or “high-end” mobile devices), are chang­ing not only the way we commu­ni­cate but the defi­n­i­tion of mobile phones them­selves.  Smart­phones are becom­ing personal devices that offer advanced comput­ing ability and connec­tiv­ity rather than just a reli­able way to relay a message.   The first true smart­phone with an oper­at­ing system was only made widely avail­able in the last decade or so and came with a high price tag of often $500 or more.  With the rela­tively recent release of the iphone and Android oper­at­ing system, however, smart­phones have become both widely avail­able as well as afford­able.  This is quickly creat­ing new oppor­tu­ni­ties for mobile adver­tis­ing.

Smart­phones have many of the same capa­bil­i­ties (and in some cases, like that of Google Goggles, even more) as desktop and laptop comput­ers. Users are engag­ing in web brows­ing, an increas­ing amount of mobile apps, videos, games and more.  Phones running complete oper­at­ing systems that are portable enough to take just about anywhere are actu­ally chang­ing the way we search all together.  They are used increas­ingly for local searches and aid in consumer purchas­ing deci­sions.  They are almost always on and nearby includ­ing while driving and at restau­rants and stores.  At the current rate, mobile inter­net usage may equal or even surpass desktop inter­net usage in the coming years.

Though still esti­mated to be less than 15% of total search volume, mobile use is expected to continue to grow rapidly.  Accord­ing to Google, the amount of searches on phones with full inter­net browsers has increased by 4 times in the last year alone and the amount of people who own a smart­phone has as much as doubled. This offers a tremen­dous oppor­tu­nity for adver­tis­ers to engage users.

There are already several ways in which adver­tis­ers can use mobile as a plat­form to reach customers whether they  want to drive traffic to their site, drive traffic to their store, receive phone calls or even promote apps or brand aware­ness.  Among these are text and banner ads within mobile search and display networks, rich media ads, mYoutube campaigns, click to down­loads, tablet ads and many of the other extras currently made avail­able for desktop ads (such as click to call, sitelinks, loca­tion exten­sions with multi­ple addresses, seller rating exten­sions, and offer ads).  Adver­tis­ers can also ensure that their websites are mobile ready by rewrit­ing their page in a mobile markup language or ensur­ing their desktop pages render prop­erly on mobile screens.

Google recently uploaded a video high­light­ing some of the possi­bil­i­ties of mobile search: