Opera expands ad business in Africa with AdVine acquisition

Browser maker goes mobile in Africa with buyout of a South African ad company.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Opera Mediaworks, the Norwegian browser maker's US-based advertising subsidiary, has acquired South African mobile ad network AdVine.

The buyout gives Opera Mediaworks a partner which has been selling Opera's own mobile-ad inventory, as well as inventory it manages on behalf of third parties, such as mobile network operators, in Africa. It's an important market as many consumers on the continent access the internet directly through mobile, echewing the desktops so many in Europe and the US rely on and earning it the name 'mobile-first Africa'.

AdVine sells a number of Opera-based packages, such as targeted advertising, to users of the Opera Mini browser Smart Page, as well as ad inventory on Opera's operator partner pages, and paid promotion in Opera's app store.

Opera Mediaworks hasn't disclosed the value of the deal but says it plans to significantly expand its investments in people and resources across the African continent.

"Africa is positioned to become the 'mobile continent' with experts predicting an explosion in mobile data usage over the next five years," said Mahi de Silva, CEO of Opera Mediaworks. "We are particularly excited about the hundreds of millions of African and global consumers who will be glued to the African Cup of Nations in 2015."

The purchase of AdVine is the latest in a string of mobile advertising purchases that take Opera deeper into different regions. The browser maker earlier this year paid around $350m for mobile video firm AdColony to target the US market, and later acquired German mobile ad firm apprupt.  It has also acquired Hunt Mobile Ads for the Latin American market and 4th Screen Advertising for the UK.

According to Opera, its Mediaworks unit served ads for 17,500 apps and websites in the third quarter of this year, up from 14,000 a year earlier, while the total ad impressions managed by the subsidiary grew to over 187.5 billion, up nine percent from the same quarter a year ago.

Last week Opera launched its Opera Subscription Mobile store, a new product for mobile operators in emerging markets that want to set up their own branded app stores. The pitch to operators is that they can create 'all you can eat' subscriptions based on a weekly fee to consumers and not have to worry about managing the app store.

Another of Opera's products to tackle the cost of data in emerging markets is its Sponsored Web Pass, again aimed at operators which can offer ad-sponsored data plans.

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