Nokia crashes the mobile ad party

Mobile advertising

On Tuesday Nokia announced the launch of a mobile ad network.  You can read about it on ZDNet and commentary on OpenGardens and Communities Dominate Brands (where I first learnt of this development).

Wow.  This space is getting more crowded than one of Judith’s and Michael’s Second Chance Tuesdays.

On this side of the pond at least the market leaders are Admob and ScreenTonic who have both served over 1bn impressions.  Other start-up players trying to build mobile banner ad businesses include Adinfuse and ThirdScreenMedia.  Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft also shouldn’t be forgotten.  Then, finally, the online adservers are planning to move into this market as well – DoubleClick is doing trials and so is aQuantive.

I’m predicting a bun fight.

At the moment I’m hearing inventory is the limiting factor, so CPMs are high and everyone is feeling good.  That won’t last forever.  Inventory will rise substantially as more people access the web from their phones and CPMs will come down.  If the history of the wired web is repeated this will become a commodity business.  Scale will count for a lot and only the biggest ad networks will survive.

I also expect mobile and online adserving to converge.  This makes sense for advertisers and owners of inventory.  As an advertiser it makes sense to run a single campaign across multiple media, and as a website owner it makes sense to promote all your sites together, fixed and mobile.  I think this means the pure play mobile ad networks have a limited window to get to scale.

We are seeing the beginning of this already.  Virgin Media announced its first cross platform deal this week – 20th Century Fox will promote Ben Stiller’s Night at the Museum in a single campaign running across Virgin’s fixed and wireless properties.