GoogMob Win Means Mobile Gets Hotter, Faster

As you've seen by now, the FTC decided not to sue to block the Google acquisition of AdMob. That decision took only six months and came grudgingly after it appeared that litigation was probably unlikely to succeed. The FTC issued a statement today citing Apple's iAd launch as the principle reason behind it's decision:

In a statement issued today, the Commission said that although the combination of the two leading mobile advertising networks raised serious antitrust issues, the agency’s concerns ultimately were overshadowed by recent developments in the market, most notably a move by Apple Computer Inc. – the maker of the iPhone – to launch its own, competing mobile ad network. In addition, a number of firms appear to be developing or acquiring smartphone platforms to better compete against Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android, and these firms would have a strong incentive to facilitate competition among mobile advertising networks.

“As a result of Apple’s entry (into the market), AdMob’s success to date on the iPhone platform is unlikely to be an accurate predictor of AdMob’s competitive significance going forward, whether AdMob is owned by Google or not,” the Commission’s statement explains.

The Commission stressed that mergers in fast-growing new markets like mobile advertising should get the same level of antitrust scrutiny as those in other markets. The statement goes on to note that, “Though we have determined not to take action today, the Commission will continue to monitor the mobile marketplace to ensure a competitive environment and to protect the interests of consumers.

(Emphasis added.)

The mobile ad market -- and mobile marketing more broadly -- have been gaining mindshare and slightly more share of wallet among marketers and agencies. The announcement of the AdMob acquisition last year got lots of notice and woke people up -- because Google was the acquiring company and because of the value of the deal ($750 million).

Since that time, and the subsequent acquisition of Quattro by Apple, momentum in mobile has been building. The closure of the GoogMob deal will now enable Google to put the pedal to the metal and roll out a range of new mobile and cross-platform initiatives. This will put competitive pressure on Apple, Yahoo!, Microsoft and others and further boost the segment as a whole. 

We're going to see additional consolidation and acquisitions now and over the next 12-18 months. And we're going to see the mainstreaming of mobile advertising and marketing, which the MMA is trying to help along, very quickly. The issue will be how to implement mobile campaigns effectively, along side other marketing channels. 

Thus the question surrounding mobile is no longer "why" but "how."