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Vodafone and Telefonica go into mobile ads

28 ноября 2007

Vodafone and Telefonica have taken stakes in a mobile phones advertising company, as they look for ways to fight back against the incursion of Internet search groups into their territory.

Vodafone and Telefonica go into mobile adsThe two rival mobile operators have made an undisclosed investment in Amobee, which has begun rolling out its advertising serving platform for mobile search, mobile games and text messages.

Both companies have begun trials of Amobee's technology - Telefonica through its O2 subsidiary in the UK and Vodafone in Spain, Greece and the Czech Republic - but said they had decided to take minority stakes to improve their understanding of a potential future growth source.

Informa, the business media group, estimates that mobile advertising will grow from a $2bn market now to $11.3bn by 2011, helping offset mobile operators' falling voice revenues and providing an attractive new market for online advertising platforms such as Google, Yahoo and AOL.

"Is [mobile advertising] going to be as big as everyone says it will be? We're not entirely sure, but we felt it was important to be close to this," said Russ Shaw, director of innovation at Telefónica.

Frank Boulben, director of strategic marketing at Vodafone, added that it also hoped for a financial return on the investment.

"Amobee being a young company, having Vodafone as a major customer provides them with a major boost. By investing in the company at the same time, we'll participate in the value we bring as a reference customer," he said.

Zohar Levkovitz, chief executive of Amobee, said it could offer operators a way to avoid losing control of their services' revenues to new entrants such as Google or Yahoo. "If the user experience on a Vodafone handset is going to be Google Android or Yahoo To Go, they're going to be just people with a connection to the net. We are helping operators take control of their own destiny," he said.

The investment represents Amobee's third fundraising since the group was set up in San Francisco, London and Israel in May 2005. Its first trials went live in March 2006, helped by backing from Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners and Globespan.

Patrick Parodi, chief marketing officer of Amobee, said its advantage over advertising platforms targeted at the mobile internet was that it could also serve up advertisements in games and SMS text messages.

Consumers benefited from lower prices for such mobile services if they agreed to receive advertising, he said.

"UK and US SMS traffic is larger than all the traffic to Google worldwide. If we can monetise that traffic, this is going to be huge," Mr Levkovitz added.

Источник: Financial Times

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