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At 3GSM, a call for mobile-ad standards

Standards will make advertising easier, more cost-effective, say GSM and Vodafone CEOs. Also, Yahoo announces new ad deals.
Written by Marguerite Reardon, Contributor
BARCELONA, Spain--Leaders in the wireless industry need to develop standards for implementing mobile advertising, two executives at the 3GSM World Congress said on Tuesday.

In opening remarks, GSM Association CEO Rob Conway and Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin said wireless-industry leaders should focus on developing standards to make it easier for advertisers to work with them.

"We are highly fragmented when it comes to advertising," Conway said. "We need to do what the broadcast TV market did--identify what is inventory in mobile space and come up with ways for measurement so advertisers can measure the value of advertising on mobile versus broadcast TV."

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Going mobile at 3GSM
More news from the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, one of the world's largest showcases of cutting-edge wireless technology.

Conway said the GSM Association board of directors agreed on Sunday to create a forum that would reach across industries to bring them together to develop such standards.

Advertising on mobile handsets is expected to be big business over the next several years. It's easy to see why. Today there are more than 2 billion mobile subscribers in the world. This compares to roughly 1.4 billion televisions and 1 billion PCs worldwide.

According to market researcher Informa Telecoms & Media, advertisers will spend more than $11 billion by 2011 on mobile marketing. Mobile-service operators could reap as much as 50 percent of this advertising revenue as they negotiate deals with content owners.

But Vodafone's Sarin said during his portion of Tuesday's keynote that mobile advertising is not a slam dunk for providers.

"We can't assume this will happen automatically," he said. "We have to make our industry easy to do business with."

He noted, for example, that if Proctor & Gamble wants to advertise on mobile phones in a particular market, it shouldn't have to adhere to certain technical criteria for Vodafone and do something completely different when it advertises on Orange's mobile phones.

Instead, Sarin said, operators and others in the industry need to work together to define criteria such as the most appropriate size for banner advertisements, the length of video advertisements and the technology platforms that deliver advertisements to consumers.

Yahoo's new ad alliances
In other mobile-advertising news, Yahoo said at the 3GSM conference that it has struck deals with several major advertisers in 18 markets in Western Europe, South Asia and the Americas to deliver mobile ads. Some of the advertisers include Hilton's Embassy Suites, Infiniti, Intel, Nissan Motor, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble Asia-Pacific and Singapore Airlines. They will be among the initial advertisers on Yahoo's mobile-advertising system.

Advertisements will run along the top of Yahoo's home page on the Internet screens of mobile phones. Consumers can click on the interactive ads to learn more about an advertiser's offer or call the advertiser directly for details.

Yahoo Japan, the company's joint venture with Softbank, has been running ads in Japan for several years. It has an exclusive deal with Vodafone, and it introduced display ads in the United States in November.

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