Yahoo! has started a beta trial of paid-for search results on its mobile internet service in the UK and US.
Internet giant Yahoo, lately said that it has launched a beta version of sponsored text advertising tied to mobile search in the United States and the United Kingdom, a move that gives the portal a jump on rivals Google and Microsoft.
The company introduced the new Mobile Sponsored Search product as a beta service offering advertisers text-based ads, an immediate wireless Web presence with a Yahoo-created landing page and a console to manage mobile marketing campaigns.
Yahoo offers search for people with Web browsers in their handsets, and is looking to offer ads based on search queries.
Like Yahoo’s sponsored search results on the Web, advertisers will bid in an auction on keywords that will display their ads on the search results page. The service will work on most mobile phones and handhelds that have Web browsing capabilities.
Clicking on the ad takes the cellular-phone subscriber to the advertisers’ mobile Web site or a landing page to get more product information, including the ability to call the advertiser, Yahoo said.
The test will be open to a "select group" of advertisers, Yahoo said.
The launch, starting with a group of just under 100 advertisers, forms part of the portal’s plan to extend pay per click services to mobiles, before being made generally available. The group has already conducted tests of sponsored mobile search results in the UK and Japan, as well as targeted trials in the US.
"Our test deployments have been very successful, with strong advertiser demand and consumer engagement, which makes us very excited to bring our sponsored search listings to an even wider audience," Steve Boom, senior vice president of mobile and broadband for Yahoo, said in a press release.
Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., tested the service in Japan and the United Kingdom, and, on a more limited basis, in the United States. The browser-based service provides quick access to a range of offerings, including Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Messenger and Yahoo Search. It also shuttles mobile news, finance and sports-related content.
Google has been testing a similar service in Japan, but has yet to launch it in beta. Microsoft offers text advertising in mobile Web mail, but has yet to launch a product tied to search. AOL also offers sponsored links on AOL Mobile Search for some results, an AOL representative said.
Both Yahoo and Google, which has not yet provided advertising on its mobile search service, are in a race to attract mobile users through partnerships with operators.
Mobile users are prime targets for online advertising, particularly in countries where consumers use their handsets as the primary device for accessing the Web.
Yahoo’s push into the market comes less than a month after Google began testing ads on its mobile search interfaces in the U.S., U.K. and Germany and signals a major push to find eyeballs for advertisers on smart phones and Web-enabled devices.
According to tracking data from M:Metrics, Yahoo has the second largest mobile Web audience with roughly 3.8 million users, trailing only Google (4.5 million).
The major search engines are eyeballing the mobile advertising market, which promises to be lucrative. Experts say consumers using their mobile phones to search the Web are likely to wind up making a transaction ultimately by visiting a retail store, restaurant or other merchant.
Yahoo did not release details on pricing for the cost-per-click service that launches initially with a “select group of advertisers." Yahoo said it would expand the number of participating advertisers as the beta phase progresses.
Boom said test deployments in the U.K. and Japan were very successful, with strong advertiser demand and consumer engagement, pushing the company to expand the sponsored search listings to a wider audience.
Much like sponsored search on the Web, advertisers can develop text ad listings and campaigns for wireless devices and then set the price they are willing to pay when a user clicks on their ad.
Also in a latest development, Reuters reported that NTT DoCoMo will add Yahoo Japan search services for its mobile customers. It previously said it will include search technologies from 10 search engines, including Google, the report said.