In Tokyo Metro train, I noticed small ads by Google Japan. The ads are for Google Mobile Search promotion.
This one suggests to search Google by “Shibuya Movie” when you want to know if the film “Taken” can be watched from now in your location (Shibuya).
So Google Japan wants more cellphone users to use Google for mobile search. Interestingly, how these ads guide cellphone users to the Google mobile site is “to search by Google”.
Here in Japan, it is common practice that paper ads have a search box with keywords and search button (though you cannot really press it), when you try to take someone to your website. And this Google ads have “Google” in Japanese Katakana, phonetic letters “グーグル” as the search keyword.
Asking to “search by Google(グーグル)” implies, Google Mobile Search is not a major search service in Japan. Here Google Japan tries to change mobile users’ default search site.
So what do people use? If you are a Softbank, #3 carrier, user, your phone has “Y!” button and searching on Yahoo! Japan Mobile is much easier. This was done because Softbank owns good amount of Yahoo! Japan stock. For Softbank users, this ads expect to search “Google” on Yahoo!
But did No.1 NTT DoCoMo and No.2 KDDI au both tie up with Google? Yes, respectively in 2008 and in 2006 they shook hands with Google. Both now use Google’s engine for their official search results.
However, the results page are not same as the results on Google.jp mobile. Both DoCoMo and au search shows 1. their ads space, 2. their matched “official menu” websites, then 3. Google’s mobile search results, 4. PC search results and in DoCoMo’s case 5. “search by other search engines” links.
The following is a search result page sample provided by DoCoMo.
And the first page is occupied by the top ad and followed official sites. Google’s results of the internet mobile and PC sites are shown when you scroll down.
This train ads seems to intend to grab some users from those carriers’ official search to the simpler, and carriers-menus-free, internet search results.