Peter Kafka

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Why Google and Yahoo Will Have to Keep Waiting for Mobile Money

phone boothMore and more people are using their phones to get onto the Web. When will advertisers follow in their footsteps?

Be patient, says a new report from Bernstein Research, which predicts that mobile ads will reach $2.2 billion by 2013. That’s a decent chunk of change, but still a small portion of the estimated $32 billion that will be spent on Web ads that year. And for Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO), it won’t be nearly enough to provide a meaningful boost to their business.

Bernstein analyst Jeffrey Lindsay isn’t down on mobile, by the way. Just realistic. He argues, sensibly enough, that mobile Web use is different from the kind you do at work or home: When you go online via your phone, you tend to look for specific bits of information, then hop off, as opposed to endless surfing from your desk or couch.

Which means that even as people transition to phones with good Web browsers like the one on Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone, their mobile Internet time won’t replace the time they spend on their PCs, but just augment it. Translation: By 2013, Lindsay figures that mobile will make up about seven percent of Web page views. Click table below to enlarge.

bernstein mobile page views

What does this mean for Yahoo and Google, both of which have been talking up mobile as a big growth sector? Not that much, Lindsay says. He figures U.S. mobile ads could generate $300 million for Yahoo in 2013–about four percent of revenue.

And he thinks Google, which dominates mobile search in the same way it dominates the wired world, could generate $600 million–less than two percent of its revenue. Lindsay’s math (click to enlarge):

yhoo mobile breakdown bernstein

Not included in Lindsay’s analysis: Any mention of mobile ad opportunities specific to the app ecosystem Apple is creating. As I noted earlier this week, Apple has now pushed out two billion apps to iPhone and iPod touch users, and the majority of these could support ads if there’s a market for them.

[Image credit: mistress_f]