"We are considering beginning Google's mobile-search ads on our wireless Internet network during the second half of this year," said Yang Yoon-seon, head of SK Telecom's search department.
Since February, SK Telecom, holding more than 20 million mobile phone subscribers in South Korea, has incorporated Google's search engine for its wireless Internet service, but has yet to offer the mobile-search ads.
This is the move everyone in the wireless market has been waiting for. While both Google and Yahoo have been testing mobile search ads, no one really seems to know how well they will perform in an open commercial launch. Earlier this year Google hinted that its mobile ad trials were working well, but there has been little publicly released data to date.
As I argued last month, the biggest obstacle to mobile search advertising is still mobile search:
The third challenge is mobile search -- or the lack thereof. I have had several people try to talk to me about mobile search marketing. This is kind of a challenge since mobile search is still very much an emerging category, much less mobile search marketing.
As we all know, the bulk of successful online advertising these days is search-based. It's simple, text link ads on Google and search-based ads are just more relevant. Obviously, marketers are eager to replicate this success on the third screen. But for that to happen, mobile search has to, you know, actually take off. Without viable mobile search, there won't be any mobile search advertising. In a sense, predicting the growth of mobile advertising before mobile search has had a chance to develop is putting the cart before the horse.
On the other hand, we also know that mobile search is beginning to push mobile Web traffic growth. So obviously people are starting to use mobile search.
But we still don't have any market numbers or any real full-blown commercial launches. I suspect that once SK Telecom launches, though, other carriers will follow suit.
What do you think? How long until we see a viable mobile search ad market?