Twitter, Google Add Products in Rivalry for Mobile-Ad Dominance

The competition for advertising on mobile applications is in full swing, with Twitter Inc. (TWTR), Facebook Inc. (FB) and Google Inc. (GOOG) ramping up efforts.

Twitter today said it will offer ads across the mobile Web that are customized to blend into a site’s content. Facebook has been testing a mobile-ad network of its own. And Google unveiled more ways for developers to drive app downloads, days after Twitter announced a similar offering.

The new tools are a big change from this time last year, when Facebook was beaten down by investors concerned that the company’s shift to mobile was too slow, and when Twitter’s advertising was limited to its own application. This year, the two companies are making moves to grab mobile-ad dollars by offering marketing services outside their own social networks and websites, something Google has been doing for years.

While Google is the No. 1 provider of mobile ads, its share of the $31.5 billion market is slipping. The Internet-search company is set to grab 47 percent of the market this year, down from 49 percent in 2013, according to EMarketer Inc. Facebook may nab 22 percent in 2014, compared with 18 percent last year, while Twitter should get 2.7 percent this year, up from 2.4 percent.

One of the new ad services Google unveiled today seeks to promote user downloads of apps with better targeting based on what consumers have used in the past. Google also said it’s adding app-download tools to a popular YouTube advertising feature called TrueView.

App-Install Ads

Twitter made a similar announcement last week, challenging Menlo Park, California-based Facebook, which counts app-install ads among its biggest moneymakers on mobile phones.

Apple Inc., maker of the iPhone, also has a program called iAd for Developers that allows makers of games, productivity tools and other apps to market their titles to users of Apple products. The ads are targeted based on data Apple has on customers, such as what apps a person has purchased from the company’s App Store or what songs and movies have been bought through iTunes.

Mountain View, California-based Google is also providing a new feature on its search ads that brings consumers directly to an application from a query-results page. A user looking for a hotel in San Francisco on a mobile browser, for example, could go immediately to the specific page inside the installed HotelTonight Inc. application.

“We’re building on our success on AdMob and search,” said Jerry Dischler, Google’s vice president of product management for AdWords, in a video presentation. AdMob is the mobile-advertising network Google acquired in 2010. “Hundreds of millions of applications have already been downloaded as the result of these products. We’re scaling this effort up and bringing it together into a single, integrated solution.”

Facebook Mobile

Facebook, which now gets more than half of its advertising revenue from mobile, will speak to developers at a conference next week about how they can use Facebook ad products to boost downloads and consumer engagement on their applications.

Twitter’s new products build off its acquisition of MoPub Inc., a mobile-advertising exchange, which gives it an existing network of ad buyers. MoPub now reaches more than 1 billion devices, rivaling the number of users on Facebook, Twitter said last week.

On Twitter.com, advertisers can promote their content in the form of a tweet that gets mixed in with all the other updates users subscribe to. Twitter is offering these ads that blend in -- known as native advertisements -- across other applications and mobile websites with the MoPub product.

Engaging Users

Native advertising has become valuable as Internet users get more accustomed to ignoring the typical display and pop-up ads that appear on the edges of Web pages. That means an ad in a news application could look like a promoted story, or a marketing message in a game could blend into the way it is played.

“We’ve learned that not only are native ads a significant improvement for publisher monetization in general, but that users engage with these ad formats at a higher rate,” MoPub founder Jim Payne wrote in a blog post. “Because of this, monetization through native ads can deliver a considerably better experience for users and also a better ROI for marketers.”

The service, which displays advertisements on applications other than Twitter’s, will be available to all publishers starting tomorrow, the San Francisco-based microblogging company said today on the blog.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sarah Frier in San Francisco at sfrier1@bloomberg.net; Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Pui-Wing Tam at ptam13@bloomberg.net Jillian Ward

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