There is no mobile

by greg on July 7, 2008

I read Venture Beat on AdMob this morning with much interest – a lot of strong analysis there by Matt Marshall. But I don’t completely agree with his belief that ‘AdMob is about to kill it’ – they could, but this is very much up in the air. Why? Well, AdMob’s a great mobile advertising company with great leadership, but when it comes to the browser space, there is no more ‘mobile’. For every phone worth having – for every phone that people are surfing the web compulsively on, for the fastest growing segments of the market, ‘mobile’ is no longer a technologically distinct category. It’s rapidly becoming ‘online with smaller ad units.’

Don’t buy it? Check out AdMob’s own engineering blog, where they state:

Some mobile ad requests look an awful lot like their online brethren. For instance, AdMob has a special version of our ad request code for the iPhone. The iPhone code is a bit of Javascript that gets installed within content markup and makes the browser responsible for both fetching and rendering the ad.

This is actually identical to traditional online adserving. That’s because the better phone browsers, led by Apple’s Mobile Safari browser, have full implementations of cookies and JavaScript. Any online ad network out there could start competing for the best part of AdMob’s business tomorrow – they don’t need new technology, they just need the phone-sized creatives. So while AdMob’s in a good spot, the sweetest spot of their business is no longer technically defensible. They (and any other company focused on exclusively the ‘mobile’ web) are undoubtedly going to have a lot more competition in the near future.

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