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First Look: Yahoo Hopes to Gain #1 Mobile Search Spot With Expansion

Despite many believing mobile marketing to be a “non starter”, the search engines continue to invest heavily in mobile search. With $11.4 billion expected to be spent on mobile search advertising by 2011, Yahoo is at the top of the list of companies staking their future on the tiny web browser.

Earlier this year, Yahoo launched their mobile oneSearch technology for Yahoo Go and today the number two search engine will announce their expansion of oneSearch. For those of you needing a primer, oneSearch is designed to make searching for and finding information as quick as possible for consumers by providing relevant results right on the page such as news headlines, images, business listings and more as well as easy navigation to other web sites. Effectively, oneSearch anticipates the type of information you are looking for, and does away with the arduous task of navigating ten blue links in a mobile browser (see the “pizza” example, right).

The expansion of oneSearch involves making the service available on more than 85% of cell phones – doing away with the need for your phone to support Java downloads – and helping Yahoo make a stronger challenge for the title of top mobile search provider.

Speaking with Yahoo’s Director of Mobile Web, Lee Ott, it’s clear the company is hoping 2007 is the year that it takes the mobile crown away from Google. “Yahoo intends to be #1 in mobile search,” says Ott – mobile research firm M:Metrics has Yahoo in the number two slot for mobile search, behind Google, for December 2006. In fact, Ott believes “2007 will be the tipping point for mobile search.” A bold claim, which I’m sure we’ve heard every year for the past three years.

With such confidence in the prospects for mobile search in 2007, it’s no wonder Yahoo is building search advertising and display advertising into oneSearch. “oneSearch has monetization built-in from inception,” confirms Ott, adding that the service will be Yahoo’s “monetization engine for the mobile web.”

Yahoo oneSearch for the Mobile Web rolls out today for the U.S. and additional country and language versions over the coming months. For more details, visit http://mobile.yahoo.com/mobileweb/onesearch

Starting “Non-Starter”: Mobile Marketing

Surprise, surprise: mobile marketing is labeled “a non-starter” by Brady Gilchrist on iMedia Connection last week. I can’t disagree. For all the hype surrounding mobile marketing, there are few truly viable mobile marketing models. Brady cites the “SMS to win” and e-coupons models, but states “There is really nothing out there that has wowed consumers, just yet.”

But, he points out, there’s hope. Rather than being all doom-and-gloom about how mobile marketing has still failed to effectively materialize (like I am), Brady develops six different mobile advertising models, most of them based on future technology capabilities. His list:

  1. Instant information: “Expect that the first major retail use of mobile internet . . . will be comparative shopping. . . . Widgets, such as reminder lists, traffic cams, weather forecasts and a million other useful bits and pieces, are all sponsorable and brandable opportunities.”

The Blogosphere’s All A-Twitter

Must be spring, since, as I said, the blogosphere’s all a-Twitter. (FYI, the first day of spring is next week. So lay off with the 600 stories of the weekend, okay?)

Yeah, that’s right, I had nearly 600 stories in my feed reader. And several of them were, in fact, about Twitter. Chris Brogan at lifehack.org has a good description of Twitter:

For those of you not yet using it, Twitter is a communications gateway that asks the question: “What are you doing now?” Users can answer and hear their friends’ answers via SMS, via IM, or on a webpage. Updates have to be under 140 characters. Think somewhere between IRC and IM and that’s Twitter.

Mobile Marketing Resources

The Online Publishers Association says that mobile marketing is working. With response rates as high as ten times that of Internet ads, mobile ads seem to be working for early adopters. The OPA admits that the medium is fledgling and that results can change over time. (Via MarketingVOX.)

Personally, I’m not a fan of mobile marketing, but to each his own. Strike while the iron’s hot (or heating up). Here are some mobile marketing resources. Please note that this list is not fully vetted; I did some searches, skimmed the content and made snap decisions.

Sites/blogs devoted to Mobile Marketing

Mobile Marketing News

Two different ad-supported mobile services have been announced today.

CNN has relaunched its mobile site, now a free model supported by ads. MarketingVox reports:

The site will allow people to sign up for breaking news alerts via SMS. It will also feature a searchable news archive, correspondents blogs and a mobile-friendly two-minute video news update each hour.

That video show will have pre- and post-roll spots from Lexus, CNN Mobile’s first advertiser. Lexus will also put up banner ads on the site. The carmaker has signed up for the first month of the site under the deal, which was put together by the Zed agency.

Also today, Hovr premiers free mobile gaming supported by ads. Again from MarketingVox:

The Search for a Mobile Advertising Model

I’ve never been totally clear on exactly how mobile advertising was supposed to work. I’d like to blame that on the fact that there hasn’t been one tried-and-true advertising model they’re sticking with. There are banners on providers’ portal sites, I get one PPC result when I use Google on my phone, but advertising, at least on my cell phone, is pretty sparse.

One mobile advertising model that actually sounds appealing is to offer subscribers incentives, such as free minutes, for viewing ads. Virgin Mobile has been testing this model with its ‘Sugar Mama‘ program, as the Seattle Times reports today: “In its first seven months, the Sugar Mama campaign awarded 3 million minutes to about 250,000 of the registered customers.”

Citysearch Acquires InsiderPages

citysearch/insider pagesOnce dominated by Citysearch, competition has increased in the local sector—Insider Pages, Judy’s Book, Outside.in, etc. Sometimes, if you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em: Citysearch has acquired Insider Pages, a local review site.

Insider Pages has been reported to be struggling lately, but the reports have not included the actual price. Insider Pages had garnered $9 – $10 million in venture capital; TechCrunch reports the acquisition was around $13 million. Although there were multiple bidders, Insider Pages selected Citysearch because it’s complimentary, according to VP of Marketing Anne Raimondi.

VentureBeat reports:

Insider Pages has about 600,000 user reviews, and they’ll be integrated into the Citysearch’s offering, she said. It has 2.5 million monthly unique readers, she said, based on Comscore and internal tracking numbers.