Jonathan Thaw, Bloomberg
Yahoo! Inc., seeking a foothold in the mobile advertising market, will sell ads on the sites of mobile Internet publishers starting in the second quarter.
Publishers in 19 countries will be able to display sponsored text links, graphical ads, video spots and in-game promotions, said Marco Boerries, an executive vice president at Yahoo. Initial partners include video provider MobiTV Inc.
Yahoo, owner of the most-visited US Web site, aims to create a network of mobile sites on which it can sell advertising, a model that already exists for Web sites on personal computers. Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo will share revenue with mobile publishers.
“The current assumption of the marketplace is that the next two years are building years” for mobile ads, Boerries said in an interview. Mobile ads should start to generate “meaningful numbers” industrywide toward the end of next year, he said.
Startups including Medio Systems Inc., AdMob Inc. and JumpTap already offer so-called mobile advertising networks. AdMob lets publishers display ads and keep 60 percent of the revenue, according to its Web site. The San Mateo, California- based company has attracted investors including Sequoia Capital, the venture capital firm that backed Yahoo and Google Inc.
Companies in the US spend about $300 million a year on mobile ads, a figure that may increase to more than $2 billion by 2010, according to Frost & Sullivan, a market research firm in San Antonio.
Yahoo and Vodafone Group Plc, the world’s biggest mobile phone company, struck an agreement last year for Yahoo to sell advertising on Vodafone’s handsets in the UK. Boerries said that Opera, a maker of Web browsers for mobile devices, and directory service Go2 will also show Yahoo ads and that the company will add more partners.
Google, the most-used Internet search engine, is piloting sales of sponsored links next to mobile Web search results in 12 countries and has formally released the program in Japan, said Deep Nishar, a director of product management at Google. He said the Mountain View, California-based company is pursuing a “walk and not run” strategy for mobile advertising because untargeted ads may be an annoyance to mobile users.
Yahoo also introduced three other products today that are designed to improve its mobile search engine. One lets publishers submit content such as home listings to Yahoo, while another will let companies offer links to ring tones and games on Yahoo’s OneSearch site. A third program lets publishers submit sites for inclusion in Yahoo’s index of mobile sites.