NEW YORK Microsoft said it has broadened its advertising deal with CNBC and would now serve as the exclusive provider of placements on CNBC's mobile site. Microsoft struck a deal in December to sell ads on CNBC.com.
The agreement, which runs for an undisclosed period, marks the first U.S. expansion of Microsoft's mobile ad network ScreenTonic, which it acquired in May 2007. Paris-based ScreenTonic has deals in France to run ads through carriers and on mobile properties like l'Equipe, Boursier.com and Autonews.
Brian Arbogast, corporate vice president of mobile services at Microsoft, said the company is working to build an extensive mobile network that mirrors its approach online, where the firm has concentrated on sewing up deals with big-name publishers such as CNBC, Facebook and Digg.
In this way, Microsoft hopes to appeal to brand marketers looking to run their ads on top-flight properties. Mobile ad networks like AOL-owned Third Screen Media, Admob and Google's offering are more akin to Internet ad nets selling remnant inventory, Arbogast said. Microsoft's approach, in contrast, emulates Yahoo!'s attempt to build out a group of high-end destinations, he said.
"We're focused on building up what we think of as a much more valuable audience and inventory," Arbogast said.
Ford is the first company to run ads via Microsoft on CNBC's mobile site, with placements pushing its Flex crossover vehicle. That site gets about 1.1 million visitors per month, per Nielsen Mobile. (Adweek and Nielsen Mobile are units of Nielsen Co.)
For now, Microsoft will serve run-of-the-mill banners on CNBC's mobile site -- placements much like it began serving on MSN Mobile last December. In Europe, ScreenTonic has experimented with more advanced ad options, including video. As the market matures, Arbogast expects those formats to debut in the U.S. First, however, the market needs to set standards for the units.
"We will see more types of ads," he said. "Everyone expects we'll get there."