Yahoo Launches Mobile Ad Network

Yahoo Inc. launched new services on Tuesday to help publishers put their content on mobile phones and take advantage of an emerging medium for advertising.

The company is offering to help publishers retool their content so it can be accessed through Yahoo oneSearch, Yahoo's mobile search service for consumers. It is also launching a mobile advertising network that will serve syndicated ads beside the publishers' content.

Mobile phone users are unlikely to relish the idea of more ads on their phones. But Yahoo said the services will increase the content available to them, which includes local business listings, TV programs and games.

Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. are also chasing the mobile ad market, along with smaller players such as AdMob Inc., Third Screen Media Inc. and Medio Systems Inc.

Yahoo has only three publishers in its ad network today but it plans to add more in the coming months. The first are MobiTV Inc., which provides TV and music services; go2, which provides local business listings, and Opera Software SA, the Norwegian browser company.

The services, called Yahoo Mobile Publisher Services, comprise several components. One is the Mobile Ad Network, which will let publishers choose the type of ads they run with their content, including sponsored links or video clips. Another is the Mobile Content Engine, which enables publishers to distribute their content, such as real estate listings, to mobile phones.

Two other services, Mobile Media Directory and Mobile Site Submit, let publishers make it easier for consumers to find their content, by adding tags or linking it to ratings and reviews, for example. Yahoo's sales teams will sell the content to advertisers.

Pricing for the services was not released. They are available now in 19 countries and the first ads are due to go live in the second quarter, Yahoo said. More information will be available later Tuesday at Yahoo's Web site for mobile business customers.

Yahoo oneSearch was upgraded in January and is available initially in the U.S., with plans to add additional languages and countries in the coming months. The company launched its mobile advertising platform in February 2007 following a beta trial in the U.S. and the U.K.

Google leads the market for PC-based search advertising, and its rivals hope to prevent it from extending that lead into the world of mobile phones.

The mobile ad market will grow quickly by some estimates. Informa Telecoms & Media, a division of Informa PLC, expects spending on mobile phone ads to reach US$1.5 billion this year, double its 2006 level, and to hit $11 billion by 2010.

Meanwhile, Google is rolling out new services for mobile phones. On Monday, it announced a service in its Google blog that lets users retrieve flight information via SMS (Short Messaging Service). Users can text the flight number to Google for flights departing or arriving in the U.S. and Google will send back the flight's status. The information is provided by flightstats.com, Google said.

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