Ever since Chinese government surrogates unsuccessfully hacked into Gmail in early 2010, Google has struggled with its “China policy.” It threatened to withdraw from China and then reversed itself. Mountain View has been unable to resist the lure of the world’s largest internet and mobile market.
Google’s PC search share in China is a very distant second to Baidu. However it is apparently and somewhat unexpectedly dominant in another Chinese market segment: mobile in-app display advertising.
Bloomberg reports that Google’s AdMob has staked out a leadership position and a big lead among app developers. According to China-based iResearch Google generated nearly half (45 percent) of all mobile display ads vs 9 percent for nearest competitor Domob.
The company has predicted that in-app mobile display advertising in China will be worth roughly 1.8 billion yuan ($283 million) in 2012, which is grater than the expected 1.2 billion yuan ($189 million) from mobile-search advertising.
By contrast, in the US market, more revenue is concentrated in mobile search advertising than mobile display today. Google overwhelmingly dominates that market.
According to data provided by Bloomberg, Google’s AdMob has in excess of 10,000 Chinese developers using it to monetize their apps. And there are almost 8 billion monthly ad requests.
Baidu isn’t sitting still. It’s trying to play catch up and offer a developer-friendly in-app ad solution. Securities firm Nomura Holdings estimates that Baidu gets about 4 percent of its total revenue from mobile search advertising today.
If the Chinese smartphone market is at all like North America or Europe, there will be far more ad impressions available in apps than there will be search queries on the mobile web.