What is a click-through on a mobile phone worth?
In November 2006, Sedo announced that it would serve parked pages on .mobi domains. The parked pages are simple, text-based lists of ad links. One of the .mobi parked pages I reviewed showed ads for a credit card. If you clicked the link from your mobile phone, it took you to a credit card application that could not be viewed on most mobile phones and wouldn’t work without SSL security. In other words, the clicks were worthless to the advertiser.
Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) recently started serving mobile converted ads in its network. The ads you currently have running are now syndicated to mobile phone ads. You can opt out, but otherwise you’ll start being charged for the clicks in late November.
Two of my affiliate ads have received mobile phone traffic so far. One is for 1-800-Pet-Meds. The other is for the Rhapsody music service. Google hasn’t charged me for the click-throughs, and that’s a good thing. Because these ads simply don’t convert.
I don’t know many people who are so desperate for flea medicine that they need to buy it from their mobile phone. And if someone clicks on my ad for the Rhapsody service, they won’t be able to complete the sign-up process nor download the application on their mobile phone.
There are ads that make sense on mobile phones, but most do not.
At the TRAFFIC auction in New York City this past June, I sat next to a couple big buyers. One of them had already purchased about a million dollars worth of domains by the time Mortgages.mobi came up for auction. He and several others chuckled about the name. They jokingly filled out a mortgage application on their cell phones. Their point was that it’s not very plausible to “convert” a user on a cell phone. One of the buyers runs an affiliate network, and understands what conversions are all about. (Mortgages.mobi sold for $25,000).
Pay-per-click doesn’t have much value on cell phones because it’s very difficult to convert into an action, at least with today’s technology. But there is an advertising medium that makes sense on mobile devices — click to call. More example, I may be in my bank’s office looking at mortgage options. Their current rates are 6% on a 30 year fixed. I grab my Treo and navigate to Mortgages.mobi and see a list of competing rates. Each rate has a “click to call” button that links me directly to the mortgage company so I can get more details. This scenario adds value to the advertiser and me.
This isn’t to say that future technology won’t make mobile click ads more valuable. Already, the iPhone is a step in the right direction to making mobile phone browsing less clunky. And this isn’t a knock on .mobi domains — this is the one new domain extension that makes sense. But advertising networks need to adjust their models to make mobile advertising profitable in the long run.