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Not Just Fun and Games for Google

Apple Tries to Put on the Hurt

Friday, April 16, 2010 | Posted by Aaron Goldman

Posted In: Digital Marketing / Google / Press / Press Mentions

Earlier this week, Laurie Sullivan from MediaPost asked me for my POV on Google hiring Mark DeLoura in the role of "Developer Advocate."

My 2 cents is shared in Lauries's post titled, "Is Google's Next Big Thing Video Games?"

Below is the blurb. What follows are my thoughts on Google, gaming, apps, Apple, and the iAd platform.
Between the iPhone OS and Android, the world should expect to see Apple and Google continue to duke it out in the mobile marketplace. "The key to success will become encouraging developers to innovate on their platforms," says Aaron Goldman, managing partner at Connectual. "Apple has more than 150,000 apps that developers have built on its platform. Android has something like 20,000. I'm not sure hiring one 'advocate' can close the gap but it certainly signals Google's commitment to the developer community."
Clearly, gaming is a growth category for Google. And the Big G needs growth anywhere it can get it as even 23% year-over-year revenue growth -- as reported yesterday in its Q1 Earnings -- isn't enough to please the Street.

Per the NPD Group, "online gaming for video game consoles and portables enjoyed a statistically significant increase from 19 percent in 2008 to 25 percent in 2009.  PC online gaming experienced a slight decline over the same time period, although it remained the most widely used platform for online gaming activities."

With cloud gaming picking up steam -- both via web-connected consoles and mobile devices -- it only makes sense that Google would look to play a role. Of course, the question is, "What is the role of Google in gaming?"

Google already has an in-game advertising network and a strong foothold in mobile gaming/apps advertising via the pending AdMob acquisition. It also built the Android mobile operating system, upon which thousands of games and apps have been built.

So it would appear that Google sees its role in gaming as development and ad engine that allows game publishers to distribute and monetize their assets. This is very similar to how Google -- via AdSense -- helps online publishers, bloggers, video producers, etc. create and monetize their digital assets. 

To hear Steve Jobs tell it, though, Google is not positioned well to shape advertising in apps and games. Jobs thinks Apple is better equipped to help developers monetize. That's why he bought Quattro Wireless -- an AdMob competitor -- in January and unveiled the iAd mobile advertising platform last week.

For what it's worth, I'm not bullish on the AdMob approach to mobile advertising. As I explained in a blog post back in November -- 5 Ideal Mobile Ad Formats for a Post-AdMob Google -- simply inserting display ads in apps and games is not the best approach. For consumers, it's annoying and intrusive. For advertisers, it doesn't perform. I've seen this play out personally over the past few weeks as I've been using my new Droid. Some of the free apps I've downloaded feature AdMob units obstructing the functionality, resulting in multiple accidental clicks from my big thumbs.

The iAd system seems to be built off this keen insight -- people don't want to leave the app to interact with advertisers. Accordingly, via iAd, all ads are contained wholly within the app. And they will draw off the native capabilities of the handset like location, voice, etc.

Only time will tell if response rates from iAd are higher and developers can better monetize. In the meantime, expect Mr. DeLoura to do his part to make sure Google gets full consideration from developers looking to achieve adoption and capture coin.



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