Ovum comment: Yahoo! steps up attack on mobile advertising market

Eden Zoller/Ovum
28 Mar 2007

Yahoo! has announced the launch of Yahoo! Mobile Publisher Services, a set of services designed to enable publishers to increase the discovery, distribution and monetization of their content on mobile phones. Publishers will have access to the Yahoo! Mobile Ad Network, Mobile Content Engine, Mobile Media Directory and Mobile Site Submit.

Ovum principal analyst Eden Zoller comments:

Yahoo! Mobile Publisher Services is the latest in a string of initiatives around mobile advertising that show how seriously Yahoo! takes this market and underscores the fact that it wants to be the premier player in this space.

This is no mean feat - the mobile advertising market may be immature but it is becoming very competitive with a raft of companies jockeying for position. This includes online rivals like Google and MSN but also a large number of mobile specialists, many of which have very good reputations in the market - many of them mobile search specialists such as Modeo and Jumptap.

Moreover, Yahoo! is not first off the block with a mobile publisher advertising network. AdMob and Third Screen Media offer services of this kind and, earlier in March, Nokia announced intentions to enter the field (see EuroView Daily 7 march).

Yahoo! has launched its publisher network with only three partners, which is very modest and does not provide a large collective inventory. But the partners themselves are a good start. They comprise MobiTV, which provides a mobile TV platform to several US operators including Verizon and Sprint plus Orange in the UK; Opera, one of the leading providers of web browsers for mobile devices, and go2, a location-enabled mobile content network in the U.S.

Yahoo! plans to expand the number of partners in the Yahoo! Mobile Ad Network over the coming months. The first advertisements will go live in the second quarter of 2007."

Yahoo! is being very ambitious and will face strong competition in the mobile advertising market, which is still very much up for grabs. Google is usually viewed as the lead contender in terms of online brands moving into mobile advertising, mainly because of the huge clout carried by its brand among both consumers and the advertising community.

However, we think it unwise to underestimate Yahoo! and the mobile publisher advertising network should be viewed alongside Yahoo!'s other activities in this space, which are ramping up quickly. In the last month alone it 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.

Eden Zoller is a principal analyst with Ovum's consumer group practice

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