Microsoft is today announcing the launch of mobile advertising on its range of MSN Mobile services in US, with mobile advertising already existing on MSN sites for users in Japan and some European countries. Advertisers will be able to extend their ad campaigns onto the mobile sites using technology gained by the acquisition of ScreenTonic in May 2007, as well as the aQuantive deal. Intial advertisers at launch are Paramount Pictures, Jaguar and Bank of America – Phil Holden has some screenshots showing how the ads will appear.
While advertising is traditionally thought of in terms of banner ads, its worth noting that the Paramount Pictures deal includes mobile content, and this is another way Microsoft is planning to monetize these mobile services. Offering ringtones, phone wallpapers and games is something the mobile operators have traditionally done on their own portals, so its not much of a surprise to see MSN Mobile following the same path.
What looks promising though is that users will now also be able to access additional complementary mobile services. For example the existing MSN Mobile site allows those in the US to search for film times at local cinemas. Today’s announcement takes that a step further and allows users to purchase cinema tickets via their mobile device (through a partnership with MovieTickets.com). While this still monetizes the mobile services being provided, unlike most banner advertising it improves the user experience.
Mobile internet services is a fast growing area, and Microsoft is definitely trying hard not being left behind. You only have to look at the articles we’ve posted recently tagged “mobile” to see the number of acquisitions and partnerships that are taking place. Whether you are a Mac user or not, the iPhone has driven a wave of mobile handsets that offer a good internet experience, and as a result the number of services available looks set to increase dramatically over the next year. While its not quite at the stage yet that launching a new Windows Live service for the PC will see a mobile counterpart launching at the same time, things are moving towards Ray Ozzie’s ideal that “What we want are seamless experiences across PCs and other devices and across the Web.” If you have time, you should definitely read Ozzie’s speech from the Financial Analysts Meeting 2006 to see what some of the ultimate goals for Microsoft mobile services are.