Yahoo, Nokia take aim at mobile ad space

The mobile advertising landscape is quickly shifting, with two industry heavyweights unveiling initiatives to take a sizable chunk of the estimated $10-billion market.

Aiming to take a lead in the mobile search and advertising space, Yahoo last month launched Yahoo Mobile Publisher Services, a set of services aimed at helping publishers increase the discovery, distribution and monetization of their content on mobile phones. Mobile phone giant Nokia, meanwhile, also dipped its toes into the water of the mobile ad sector, with the launch of mobile advertising services -- Nokia Ad Service and Nokia Advertising Connector.

Crowded field

Eden Zoller, principal analyst at Ovum, said while the mobile ad market is still in its infancy, both companies are already facing stiff competition from a raft of companies, including search specialists Google and MSN as well as mobile specialists that have a strong reputation in the market, such as Modeo and Jumptap. The mobile advertising space targeting publishers also has several established mobile advertising specialists like Admob and Third Screen, which have got the mobile advertising value chain well covered.

Zoller said although Yahoo's ambitions in the ultra-competitive mobile advertising race may come a bit late, it has got what it takes it to be a serious player in the game. Its partnerships with MobiTV and Opera give it a good start, so Yahoo's chances in the publisher ad area shouldn't be underestimated, Zoller noted.

In the last month alone Yahoo announced a version of Yahoo Go for Mobile 2.0 on Windows Mobile powered devices and more significantly, oneSearch.

'This search feature was originally part of the Yahoo Go interface but is now being made available to a huge range of devices -- around 85% of mobile phones in the US, according to Yahoo. Both initiatives will expand Yahoo!'s mobile reach significantly, albeit not in partnership with mobile operators.'

In the case of Nokia, which position itself as a mobile adverting service provider, its strong relationship with many mobile operators gives it more clout than some of the pure-play mobile specialists, Zoller suggested. But this doesn't mean it will be an easy fight, especially to win trust from mobile operators.

'Nokia is not looking to compete with them but instead wants to act as provider of managed mobile ad services. However, some [cellcos] may be uncomfortable because Nokia wants to place itself at the center of a mobile advertising community that it controls in terms of provisioning and, presumably, revenue flows.'

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