It has long been speculated that Google searches done on smartphones will soon overtake searches done on desktop. On Tuesday, Google confirmed the inevitability of this happening.
At its annual ad conference in Half Moon Bay, California, Google vice president of product management for AdWords Jerry Dischler said that there are now more users in the U.S. and Japan searching on Google on their smartphones than users searching on their desktops and tablets. He also said that eight other countries have seen the shift to mobile but declined to name these markets.
"We've hit an inflection point. There are now more Google searches on mobile than on desktop in 10 countries, including the U.S. and Japan," Dischler said. "We've anticipated this moment, seen this trend coming for several years now, and have been investing ahead of the opportunity."
The growing preference for mobile is important for Google because it is seen as a make-or-break milestone for the search company that built its fortune on serving online ads via desktop. And while Google is still the most dominant online advertising player, investors have been worrying about the continuous decline of Google's average ad rates and the growing influence of Facebook, which makes the lion's share of its earnings, from mobile ads.
Even so, Google chief financial officer Patrick Pichette said during the company's quarterly earnings report that the real culprit in Google's slowing ad price growth are its YouTube TrueView ads, which users can skip if they don't want to view.
Still, an online empire, even an aging online empire, such as Google is not quick to give up its hold on the online advertising industry. With its announcement of the search shift from desktop to mobile, Google also introduced a portfolio of new services for marketers and advertisers to help them reach more users on mobile.
Unlike Facebook, which takes advantage of its mobile-native ad network, Google says mobile is more about being able to reach the consumer all the time, wherever he is, at the moment he is on the verge of buying something or installing a new app.
"People are saying that mobile is all about apps, but we think mobile is about the always-on consumer," said Dischler. "The idea of purchase funnel with a very linear flow from top to bottom is a very antiquated notion. It's been replaced by short bursts of activity... what we call micro-moments."
To help marketers be there for consumers during these micro-moments, Google is rolling out interactive, mobile-friendly ad units in place of the old text-based and banner ads as well as a number of tracking tools that help advertisers monitor conversions across multiple devices and in-store visits made by users who clicked on their ads.
Photo: Blondinrikard Fröberg | Flickr