Google is expanding its advertising business into a new domain: graphical ads that appear on mobile devices.
Mobile devices are a new frontier for the Internet in general and for the advertising business that Google and many others are building atop it. The mobile Web has been hobbled by tiny screens, slow and unreliable connections, and carriers' data-access fees, but a new era is arriving.
Apple's iPhone has shown what's possible. Increasingly widespread Wi-Fi makes it possible to bypass mobile-phone network operators. And initiatives such as Intel's Mobile Internet Device and Google's Android could lead to a new generation of devices.
During last week's conference call to discuss quarterly financial results, Google co-founder Sergey Brin was bullish about the opportunity to bring advertising to the mobile Web.
"The mobile ads work very well," Brin said. "There's nothing to dissuade me it would be any worse than traditional desktop search."
Google's mobile image ads are similar to those appearing on ordinary Web sites, Google said, but are smaller and are limited to one per page. Advertisers will pay only when users click on an ad, as with the company's text ads that appear next to search ads. Google requires only one ad per page, and the ads must link to mobile-specific Web pages.
This pay-per-click model is popular among advertisers who want to match expenses to active expressions of interest in their ads, though "click fraud" can mean some of that activity is bogus.