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More Screens, More Money for Google?

CEO Larry Page hopes innovation will bring the company more revenue on mobile devices
October 18, 2012

On an earnings call with analysts and investors today, Google CEO Larry Page pegged the search giant’s future to “multiscreen” experiences that make it easy for a user to switch from, say, an Android mobile device to a Chromebook computer to an Internet-connected television.

That consumers might want this seems obvious. But it’s trickier where advertising is concerned, and that is still mainly how Google makes money. And, as Page emphasized today on the call, Google is paying close attention to the advertiser experience as the world of computing changes.  “As we transition from one screen to multiscreens, Google has enormous opportunities to innovate and drive ever higher monetization. Just like search in 2000,” said a hoarse-voiced Page, who spoke publicly this week for the first time in months. 

Page said Google is on track to bring in $8 billion a year on mobile devices compared to $2.5 billion at this time a year ago. But those figures aren’t directly comparable. The “vast majority” of the $8 billion number is revenue from mobile ads, but unlike last time around, that figure also includes revenue from downloaded apps and content through the Google Play store. 

As for opportunities for innovation, Page cited the success of its “click-to-call” ads and a campaign run by T-Mobile that showed location-based promotions. Google is adding features to its Android operating system, which is now on half a billion phones around the world, that could open the doors to this kind of advertising (see “Should You Go on Google’s Field Trip?”). It is also focusing on improving video advertising revenues, as people watch more YouTube clips on their phones and televisions screens. 

This year, Google introduced its Chrome browser for mobile devices, another way the company hopes to track logged-in users and show more ads across different devices. 

Today’s call came after Google accidentally filed its quarterly results early, sending its stock plummeting when its $2.18 billion in net income for the third quarter did not meet analysts’ expectations. Apparently this error, which Google blamed on its printing firm, may have cost the Google founders $3 billion in paper wealth.

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