Ad Auction Model Comes To Mobile

Auction fever is gripping the media industry, and now it’s mobile’s turn to get its own electronic exchange. Last Friday, software and services company Third Screen Media unveiled its Madx Mobile Advertising Exchange, an online marketplace for buyers, sellers and carriers of mobile advertising in WAP, video, MMS and downloadable media. The platform, which lets buyers and sellers auction inventory, aims to improve efficiencies and set technology and privacy standards.

“The exchange brings three people to the table: the ad buyer, the content provider and the carrier,” said CEO Tom Burgess. “Publishers are very concerned about exposing all of their inventory and laying it out for a price to be determined on the marketplace.” The average buy is approximately $150,000, and several seven-figure deals are in discussion for 2007, he said.

The very existence of the exchange is an indicator of the brand dollars being spent on mobile, with Fortune 500s like American Express, Toyota, ExxonMobil and Burger King becoming “repeat buyers,” according to Ray Colwell, vp, media sales, Third Screen Media.

Long-tail advertisers such as Ask-MeNow, ClearSky Mobile Media and ZooVision are also flocking to the space. Unlike how advertising unfolded on the Web, “this is all happening at once,” Burgess observed.

Now offering advertisers a pool of more than 100 million impressions—up from 30 million in April—TSM has seen 250 percent revenue growth in 12 months, Burgess said.

The exchange marks phase three of TSM’s rollout. In January, the two-year-old firm launched its Madx/Publisher interface, amassing inventory from content providers and carriers. Madx/ Agency, which offers research, planning and targeting services, followed in May. Some 45 content publishers use TSM’s sales rep services, while others manage their own inventory.