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Yahoo Getting the Mobile Lead on Google

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Yahoo has a bunch of efforts underway in the mobile space, and they’ve announced the launch of their new mobile ad network. I’ve been using the Yahoo! Go OneSearch mobile product for a couple of months now, and really have enjoyed it. It will be interesting to see how Yahoo’s mobile ad network grows as more publishers embrace the growing mobile space.

What’s interesting is that it appears so far that Yahoo is ahead of Google in the mobile space. From the recent New York Times article:

“We are being very aggressive on mobile and moving extremely fast to get the building blocks in place,” said Steve Boom, Yahoo’s senior vice president for broadband and mobile. “We felt that business services for publishers is something that was lacking.”

Yahoo, which has fallen a distant second behind Google in Internet search and search-related advertising, has been busy promoting new mobile search software, which it introduced in January. The software, called oneSearch, is intended to allow users to quickly find information like sports scores and weather reports without scrolling through a long list of Web links.

“One area where Google has not outshined Yahoo is mobile search,” said Kevin Heisler, an analyst at Jupiter Research.

By focusing on publishers and advertisers, Yahoo is courting groups that are essential to its success on the mobile Internet. The company hopes to start delivering text, display and video ads on third-party mobile Web sites by the summer, Mr. Boom said. It announced in February that it would deliver graphical ads on its own mobile Web service.

Advertising on sites arrayed for mobile phones is a tiny market, but it is expected to grow quickly, and a number of companies, including the leading wireless carriers, are jockeying for position. Yahoo and Google have both been delivering ads linked to search results on cellphones since last year, but Yahoo is the first of the major Internet firms to introduce a mobile ad network.

I’d be shocked if Google is not taking the mobile advertising space very seriously. Will we see a similar path where Overture pioneered PPC advertising and Google one-upped them? Will Yahoo’s lead in mobile make them the winner long term, or will Google one-up them in the mobile advertising space by coming up with a better product later?

There are also some promising startups like AdMob and Third Screen Media, but I think the likely scenario is that they are purchased by bigger players opposed to any of them becoming the dominant mobile advertising solution themselves.

I don’t think we know the answers to these questions today on what will happen, but I think it’s at least good news for Yahoo that they’re leading the mobile race now instead of trailing Google into it.

Other coverage:

Techmeme, Mashable, Venturebeat, Search Engine Land

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