Mobile advertisers go wide to compete with iAd

Apple's new advertising platform raises interest in mobile ads with spillover effect that will benefit other players, including other mobile OSes, say competitors.

Apple's new iAd platform has brought more attention to mobile advertising, which can only benefit other players in the industry including other mobile OSes, say competing mobile advertising networks.

Jeff Merkel, AdMob's vice president and managing director for Asia-Pacific and Latin America, said Apple is a new entrant in a market that already sees other large global ad networks flourishing. Merkel was speaking to ZDNet Asia at the Mobile Marketing Association Forum held recently in Singapore.

Apple also only reaches iPhone users, he said, noting that other OSes such as Google's Android are on the rise.

According to James Lamberti, global vice president of research and marketing of mobile ad network, inMobi, Apple will likely lead the iPhone mobile ad scene, given the weight the company is throwing behind the iAd platform.

However, for app developers to maximize the advertising opportunity in mobile phones, they will have to look across platforms, said Lamberti.

"Developers want to make money and there must be reach. We have that reach where the iPhone does not, through Symbian and Android platforms," he said, noting that the Android is showing stronger growth than the iPhone.

Emmanuel Allix, inMobi's Asia-Pacific vice president and managing director, noted that developers see opportunities for mobile advertising to be equal in both global and local markets, where app makers will likely see half of their audience located outside their home countries. The mobile ad network they choose must then have the sales presence to engage vendors away from home, Allix added.

And for developers in the Asia-Pacific region, Lamberti said inMobi is touting itself as the network of choice with some 5 billion impressions a month. "We are able to run a pan-Asian campaign because of our salesforce on the ground," he said.

Allix noted that the need for developers to include other mobile OSes in their scope is especially important in parts of Asia, such as Indonesia and India, where the iPhone does not have significant market share.

In these countries, Nokia has the largest market share, he said.

While people are not consuming many apps on Nokia phones, he noted that increasing amounts of data is consumed via mobile browsing so mobile Web ads are "exploding" in the region's emerging markets.

And the more popular mobile sites accessed are social networks, he added.

Lamberti said most new developers are targeting Apple devices and this has driven ad demand on iPhone apps, followed by Android, Symbian and BlackBerry.

But these developers are mostly from the United States, where the iPhone is enjoying significant market share, he said.

The Asia-Pacific region is not seeing much development work, he noted, although this will grow as smartphone usage increases in the region, said Lamberti.

Merkel said AdMob serves 14 billion ad impressions a month globally, with about 30 percent of that coming from Asia.

According to inMobi, the company serves 7.5 billion impressions worldwide and 5 billion of this is to Asia.

Apple will take a 40 percent cut of ad revenue on the iAd platform when it is launched. AdMob and inMobi both currently offer the same revenue-sharing model to developers.