With an increasingly mobile world, are web advertisers getting screwed?

There’s a troubling side effect of Google’s (and Bing’s) nearly total focus on mobile (when I say “mobile”, I mean both smartphone and tablet usage).

Search engine marketers are getting screwed, at least if they don’t want tablet or app traffic.

There are plenty of advertisers who don’t care for tablet traffic — or if there is going to be tablet (or app) traffic, they want to be able to shape it for a possibly different offering.

With Google, you can shape your Adwords spend by simply setting your mobile bid to -100%.  Poof! No more mobile ad spending.

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But you can’t change tablets. And with tablets usage starting to really make a difference, that’s a challenge.

With Bing, one can reduce tablet spend by 20%. But not by 100%. They’re playing close to the same game that Google is.

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App traffic is another problem. Some publishers don’t want app traffic, and as one SEM expert told me recently:

“The sneaky thing is this: in Google we routinely have to play whack-a-mole with new websites and apps they’re sending traffic from and exclude them. In one case Google lifted ~$1,000 from our wallets from app traffic, then out-and-out refused to issue a credit.”

There are already problems with SEM (fake clicks, etc.). But now, without the ability to completely fine-tune SEM spending, the impact is significant. When you’re a major Adwords buyer (I know of companies that routinely spend millions on Adwords per year), there’s a real impact to the bottom-line.