Microsoft Buys Mobile Ad Network

NEW YORK Microsoft is branching further from its core computer software business with the purchase of ScreenTonic, a company that helps advertisers run campaigns on mobile phones.

The purchase of the Paris-based company will add to Microsoft’s ad capabilities, which already include Web search, display ads and videogame placements.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

ScreenTonic’s platform shows both text and display ads to mobile users, reporting data to advertisers on viewings and actions taken on the placements. The company works with both mobile operators and publishers. It has deals with mobile companies in the U.K., Belgium and France.

In addition to its tech platform, ScreenTonic also operates a mobile ad network that sells placements on mobile sites.

After trailing Google badly in search advertising, Microsoft has vowed to build a wide-ranging digital ad platform that links search, display, gaming and mobile. A year ago it bought Massive, which places ads within videogames.

Mobile advertising is currently a small market, but is expected to quickly grow. ABI Research anticipates $3 billion will be spent on mobile ads this year, rising to $19 billion in 2011.