NEW YORK The mobile phone is universally regarded as a personal device. For NBC and Fox, that means targeting ads in the medium based on prior search behavior and other user data.
To help them achieve that goal, NBC Universal and Fox Mobile Entertainment have inked deals with Cambridge, Mass.-based ad network JumpTap to show ads on their mobile sites based, in part, on their prior JumpTap search activity. The ads will run on sites for properties such as NBC Sports, Universal Pictures, USA Network, and Fox programming like 24, The Simpsons and Prison Break.
In this instance, a user who has searched for "Lexus" though a JumpTap-powered mobile search engine with a carrier partner like Virgin Mobile could see a luxury car ad on NBC and Fox content properties.
Thus, the phone begins to resemble the Web, where behavioral targeting has surged as a way to show users more relevant ads based on their prior Web behavior. JumpTap also combines search behavior with some demographic information provided by carriers.
JumpTap is one of many companies looking to crack into the small but growing mobile ad market. Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and specialists like AdMob and Third Screen Media are also building mobile ad networks.
The Kelsey Group estimated U.S. mobile ad spending at just $33.2 million in 2007 -- but forecasts growth to $1.4 billion in 2012.
Some mobile sites are beginning to see sizable traffic. ESPN evp, sales and marketing Sean Bratches told the Advertising Research Federation yesterday that ESPN's WAP site is drawing from 8-11 million visitors per month.
But for the market to take off, players need to offer more than typical banner placements, said Paran Johar, chief marketing officer of JumpTap.
"You've got to have a targeted experience for a mobile phone [rather] than a dancing mortgage ad," he said.
JumpTap is building off its search base. The firm has deals in place with carriers like Virgin and Boost Mobile to power their searches. And it is complementing such on-deck deals with an ad network of mobile sites.
Both Fox and NBC will continue to sell mobile ads as part of integrated deals, while JumpTap will handle mobile-specific campaigns, Johar said.
"A lot of publishers are just getting that critical mass of 5-10 million uniques per month," he said.