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Google Has Seen the Future, and It Has Ads ... Everywhere

They Won't List Revenues From Mobile Because the Category Is 'Evolving'

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Google is the largest single ad-seller in the world, so when it moves beyond PCs and phones, you can bet ads are at least part of the equation.

When the wearables market heated up earlier this year, Google was cagey. The company would not comment on any potential ads for the smartwatches its software powers or its own connected devices. People close to the company told Ad Age the products were far too young for its engineers even to consider the topic.

Now, it's evident the search giant has looked at the future and it sees ads ... everywhere.

In a December letter to the SEC, released on Tuesday, Google said in a "few years" the search giant may be serving ads on "refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities."

The letter came in response to a plea from the SEC to break out revenue derived from mobile, which Google currently does not do. But Google defended the practice, arguing that the concept of "mobile" was rapidly to a sort of ambient advertising on a great many devices.

"It is increasingly challenging to define what exactly a 'mobile' platform is from period to period," Google wrote in the letter, "and what it will be going forward."

Along with other tech giants, Google is rapidly pursuing the lucrative potential of connected devices, called the Internet of Things. It has signed deals with several automotive companies to put its Android operating system, which has around 80% market share, into consumer vehicles. In January, the company bought Nest, the makers of a smart-home thermostat, for $3.2 billion.

And Google has been flexing its marketing muscle for its own devices, including Chromebook, Nexus phones and Google Glass, the futuristic headwear it is bringing to market. Last week, the company hired Ivy Ross, a veteran marketing executive, to lead Glass.

The SEC had asked Google to break down its ad revenue figures on mobile, as Facebook and Twitter do. Google last posted its average cost-per-click in the third quarter of 2011.

In its latest earnings statement, from April, Google reported its ad prices had suffered from a shift to mobile search. Still, the company posted ad revenues of $13.9 billion for the quarter, a 17% annual increase.

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