App developers will inherit the Earth – and Google wants a piece of that.
That’s why advertising was high on the agenda for the first time on day one of Google’s I/O developer conference in San Francisco on Thursday.
Although Android’s market share is massive – according to IDC, Android has 78% of the market, versus Apple’s comparatively paltry 18% – it’s not always the platform of choice for developers, who are more attracted to Apple’s most robust mobile monetization tools.
Google might be king of the desktop, but “advertising on Google is challenging for most developers because of the incredibly large quantity of inventory available and the lack of sophisticated bidding tools,” said AppLovin CEO and co-founder Adam Foroughi.
“The investments Google is making in marketing and analytics are a good first step, but Google will have to continue to invest more in marketing solutions and more evolved analytics that can give developers insights on their audience both on mobile and cross-screen/platform,” Foroughi said.
Like Apple, Facebook and even Yahoo, which held its first mobile developer conference in February, Google recognizes that developers are the life’s blood of a healthy app ecosystem and it’s finally rolling up its sleeves with tools to help devs build their business.
First off, Google announced additions to its ad network AdMob, including an audience-builder tool powered by Google Analytics. Basically, it’s a segmentation tool that lets developers split its users based on their app usage activity. Google is also planning to beef up its mobile native ad offering within AdMob, although that feature won’t be available for a few months.
To round it out, Google announced mobile app install campaign attribution within Google Analytics, as well as a new AdWords product dubbed Universal App Campaigns geared toward smaller developers, which gives them the ability to blast their app promo campaigns across search, Google Play, AdMob, the Google Display Network and YouTube at once.
Google is also making a nod to transparency with support for iOS within Google Analytics via partnerships with 20 ad networks, including inMobi and Millennial Media. For its part, AdMob is now hooked up with 40 different mediation partners, including Twitter, Facebook, AppsFire, AdRally, LeadBolt and, most recently, Chinese mobile ad network Tencent.
Of course, the developer conference wasn’t just about advertising. Google made a series of splashy announcements around Android Pay; Google Photos, a standalone photo host with unlimited storage; always-on apps for Android Wear; and Brillo, which Google SVP of products Sundar Pichai called “an underlying operating system for the Internet of Things.”
But app developers do still need to make money in the near term, and other players, like Apple, have an arguably significant head start. That said, it’s still anyone’s game.
“Is Google too late? They can’t be too late – they’re Google, although Google is now doing things that its competitors have been doing for the last couple of years,” said Ari Brandt, CEO and co-founder of MediaBrix. “But there are still a lot of dollars – a $25 billion gap – that have yet to come to mobile. That’s a massive mobile opportunity and there’s no reason why Google can’t be there.”
As Google’s Titus said, “While we continue to innovate, we’re working hard to nail the fundamentals.”