There are lots of problems with the mobile web, but one of the most annoying is clicking through a search result and having your entire screen taken over by an app install ad. You search in vain for a tiny, opaque "X" to tap, only to miss its center by a millimeter and inadvertently trigger the trap. Today Google announced an update to its search algorithm that will try to crack down on these odious advertisements, marking any site that presents too many of them as not "mobile friendly," a designation that will push that site down in its search rankings.
Google, of course, earns most of its money selling search ads, and makes it clear in today's announcement that other kinds of app install ads, like banner ads, are just fine. After all, the company knows that the future of its business may have more to do with directing people to apps than webpages. Facebook and Twitter have been building a great business around app install ads, and Google is eager to be a part of that rapidly expanding market.
To that end Google recently rolled out a way for developers to have their apps indexed directly in search, a bridge between its traditional business model and the brave new world of mobile. Today's news is part of the delicate balancing act it must strike between growing that revenue stream and ensuring users aren't so infuriated with web search on their smartphones that they switch to something else entirely.