AdMob may currently be the largest mobile ad network, but Apple is bullish that dominance won't last long. In the six months that Google's purchase of AdMob spent stalled by the Federal Trade Commission, Apple purchased Quattro Wireless, integrated the business and launched iAds. Today, Steve Jobs announced that iAds would take in 48% of the mobile ad spend in the second half of 2010.

That's wishful thinking if you ask AdMob's CEO Omar Hamoui. On stage with John Battelle at CMSummit, Hamoui took a moment to dispel some of the boasting that Apple has made about mobile.

Considering how closely the FTC examined Google's AdMob acquisition, it's telling the Jobs is so bullish on Apple's mobile ad products. If regulators had blocked Google's mobile deal, it really looks like Apple would have had a leg up trying to create a monopoly in the mobile ad space. As it is, the company is trying to use its edge as the creator of the Jesus Phone to edge out other mobile ad purveyors. But according to Hamoui, Apple doesn't really offer products that can't be found elsewhere.

For instance, he says: "Our ads have launched a separate browser window for a year."

That's a big selling point for Apple's iAd products. Jobs often tries to sell brands on the emotional impact that Apple can provide within applications on its mobile products, with rich media content and smooth integration into Apple apps. But according to Hamoui:

"What they've done so far is not new to the industry."

Meanwhile, Hamoui seems to think that Jobs' predictions on iAds' ability to conquer the mobile ad market are offbase. Asked about the Apple CEO's boast today, he said facetiously:

"Assuming that the mobile ad market is $120 million in the second half of the year, then he's correct."

Hamoi thinks a rising mobile tide raises all ships. Simply, he says:

"Having more advertising providers is better than having less."

Considering that the iPhone and iPad are seen as the market movers in mobile, there is a chance that Apple could corner the market of advertising on its own products. Subsequently, there is a thought that AdMob could be relegated to Google's mobile products and have its revenues tied to the success of those products. But Hamoui chafes at that assumption:

"We haven't seen our buyers worry about it that way."

AdMob is focused on creating ad products for every mobile platform. For instance, Hamoui says:

"We launched iPad ad units last week. This will be important."

Hamoui doesn't discount the chance that Apple may launch adverstising products that will set it apart from the competition at some point, but he doesn't forsee Apple being the only game in town.

"It's not good for developers to have only one choice. I'm hoping that's not what's going to happen. I don' t think it even benefits [Apple]."

And while Apple used the time Google's AdMob deal was paused by regulators advantageously, Hamoui thinks it is simply too early to make definitive statements about the future of mobile advertising.

"Mobile advertising now looks nothing like what it will look like in two years time. There are a lot of interesting problems to solve before we figure out where this is going to land."

Meghan Keane

Published 7 June, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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Comments (1)

Christian Louca

Christian Louca, Founder - New Mobile Start-Up at Stealth Mode

Surprisingly it seems that Mr Jobs was unaware that expandable in-app advertising, where the user does not leave the app in order to interact with the advertiser already exists on the iPhone and other platforms. Far from being revolutionary, what Apple unveiled demonstrated the potential to create a better user experience around what is already possible. I completely agree with Omar, they are not the first to demonstrate this.

In the a past presentation given by Apple, Mr Jobs disregarded search as a way of making money from mobile advertising.  I disagree with this point of view. Looking at all of our clients I work with across Europe, search on mobile is a clear traffic driver and presents great opportunity for brands to local business to target consumers. Mobile users search for specific content from their devices on the go – whether it is local restaurants, train times, cinema listings, shops or other amenities – and even when they are sat at home on the sofa away from a computer, phones have become the natural way to search for content or quickly browse the mobile internet.  Moreover while in-app advertising does present a great opportunity for brands to target consumers and offer interactive experiences, I believe that it is only utility based apps that will tend to see repeat and continued high usage.  Comparing this to the fixed online experience, most people find content through search on Google, Yahoo etc and not through applications.  It will be no different on mobile.  When the fad and hype we are currently seeing of apps calms down (which it will), the realisation for the importance of having a mobile internet presence will dominate.     Advertising in apps can offer a lucrative opportunity for developers, but it is important to remember that it is only a small part of the global mobile advertising opportunity.  

The iPhone is an exciting platform. There is no denying that it has helped to show the industry what can be achieved, but it still remains a small segment of the global mobile ecosystem. Brands should not discount mobile search or mobile internet as Apple would have them believe – in my opinion it presents a far bigger opportunity for brands, advertisers, publishers and users alike.  

Let's not forget it was apple that released the iphone 2.5G touting it as the answer to getting the fixed line web mobile.  The reality  is, people do not want the fixed line web on mobile.  They want relevant concise pieces of content or services on the go on demand.  The slow loading full fat websites designed for the big screen (which may or may not load) is not that!  This was something Apple clearly did not understand but I do welcome their enthusiasm and commitment to the mobile industry.

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