Googling Madison Avenue and Mobile Advertising: 2008 (UPDATED)

Caroline McCarthy does a wonderful job detailing the overall trend at tonight’s New York Advertising Meetup at Googleplex East: “Old media’s not dead, it just has to be Google-ized.” Over the course of an hour, Google executives from radio, print, search and agency relations discussed (read: pitched) their online and offline products to the Madison Avenue audience.

Granted the event was hosted on their turf, Google did have a right to pitch their products and talk up why a YouTube campaign may return the greatest ROI of all online initiatives. Sure, there were some blanketing statements like the one I just listed, but I couldn’t help think about spaces outside the dominant Google; of things that Google has yet to touch.

What about mobile? Yes, Google makes great mobile applications like Maps, Search and Reader but what about advertising? “None of us know what the [mobile] monetization models could be,” Derek Kuhl, Head of Agency Relations, admitted. In the US, search is king, expected to hit $1.4 billion in revenue by 2012 although three in ten mobile users recall seeing mobile advertising. Ouch.

Google's QR Code

Above: A pamphlet with a QR Code in the Google logo. Text reads, “Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. – Gore Vidal. ‘I hope it is the same half!’ Print Ads TGIAF at Hemisphere (Google’s NYC cafeteria) 1/31/08”

In the most subtlest of ways, Google introduced a comprehensive (what marketer’s like to call, “integrated”) mobile advertising initiative via a soon-to-be-announced product for Newspaper Print Ads: QR Codes. Already available and widely popular/useful in Japan, QR Codes will work in tandem with Google’s offline advertisements in newspapers. (Wait, I thought print was tanking?) Similar to a bar code on a cereal box, QR Codes are compact enough to store valuable information (think a website address or coupon). For Google, this means taking a text ad that was placed in print, utilize the corresponding QR Code and draw the reader to another destination.

This may seem menial in comparison to Android efforts, but Google’s foray (at least in the US) into mobile advertising via QR Codes changes the dynamic completely. As the sales and engineering teams test the product internally, expect the industry to steadily roll-out awareness programs and updated software for leading smartphones and the iPhone.

P.S. I also asked Kuhl if he or any other panel speakers had any update about Twitter-competitor Jaiku and (I guess) the answer was expected: “I don’t have any updates except that we acquired it.”

Update: Dan Frommer at Silicon Alley Insider points to Google’s Print Ads barcode information website.