On Thursday night Google (GOOG) released first quarter earnings that had revenues up 24% year-over-year at $10.6 billion. While the market in general had a very neutral reaction to these solid results, the key takeaway is still on the mobile front. Here is what Google said about Mobile during its conference call:
"Mobile is exploding in query growth," Patrick Pichette, senior vice president and chief financial officer, told analysts during the conference call. "The formats themselves are adapting already a lot and from a relatively crude base. Right now they don't monetize as well because we're kind of in what search used to be in 2002, 2003, 2004. So as these formats continue to get better and better, we'd expect much better performance on them."
"Mobile is quickly becoming a backbone of many clients' overall advertising strategies and has huge headroom to grow," Nikesh Arora, senior vice president and chief business officer, told analysts.
Facebook (FB) was also in the news this week, and acquired two companies. The first company they acquired was mobile photo app company Instagram, for $1B. Instagram, which currently has no revenue, does come with over 40M users, and within the last 10 days has added 10M of those.
The second company bought this week by Facebook is Tagtile, which focuses on customer rewards and mobile marketing. Terms have not yet been released. Both acquisitions clearly show Facebook understands the need to quickly move into the mobile advertising space, and more acquisitions are certainly possible prior to their IPO in mid to late May.
Also in the news this week was Augme Technologies (AUGT.OB). On Thursday Augme released news that its subsidiary Hipcricket had completed their 175K industry leading campaign. What is of even greater significance is the growth they are seeing on a month to month basis:
Hipcricket has enjoyed double-digit percentage growth in the number of campaigns processed each month since February 2005, with over 15 percent sequential quarterly growth over the past twenty fiscal quarters.
One notable recent campaign was with the Lions Gate (LGF) film The Hunger Games. A major studio turned to Hipcricket as a one-stop mobile marketing and advertising solution for designing and implementing a comprehensive campaign to attract, engage, and re-target audiences on the mobile device. The movie broke all previous opening weekend records for box office purchases made with mobile devices.
While these three companies are all at the forefront of mobile, there is little doubt the pace will only continue to accelerate in the coming months. The ability to monetize users will continue to be the key metric going forward. The Instagram acquisition by Facebook reminds me a lot of the purchase that Google made of YouTube years ago. It seemed like a lot of money at the time for a site with zero revenues, but look what it has become now.