Refusing to be left out of the lucrative mobile advertising arms race Google, Yahoo, MSN and other big-time Web portals are engaged in, Fox Interactive Media Sept. 24 said it will offer free Web sites supported by mobile ads on MySpace and other brands.
Tailored for the small screens on most handsets, MySpace Mobile Web beta service will be available this week. FIMs IGN, FoxSports.com, AskMen and RottenTomatoes.com Web properties will also offer free mobile ad sites in the coming months.
MySpace Mobile Web and other FIM sites will offer users of all phone providers free content, tools and services that were previously offered to subscribers through paid services offered on devices in the United States by AT&T, T-Mobile and Helio.
The tools will include the ability to send and receive MySpace messages and friend requests; comment on pictures and profiles; post bulletins; update blogs; find and search for friends; and view or change mood status.
The move comes a week after Google introduced AdSense for Mobile, a program that will allow Google to sell ads for Web pages viewed via cell phones. Google is also rumored to be creating a mobile phone operating system that would allow it to better target the mobile ad dollar.
Click here to read more about Googles alleged mobile phone plans.
The drive toward mobile advertising comes as top-line search revenues are beginning to slow, forcing Google, Yahoo, MSN, MySpace, Facebook and other properties that rely on online advertising to find new revenue streams.
Mobile advertising, according to researchers at The Kelsey Group, is one such way to do this. Assuming the vendors can overcome the timidity of advertisers trying to hook consumers with ads streamed over tiny screens, The Kelsey Group said the mobile search ad market will balloon from $33.2 million this year to $1.4 billion by 2012.
Read more here about the Kelsey report and the coming mobile ad wars.
FIM, it seems, is buying into that philosophy and hopes its carrier partnerships and 80 million-plus U.S. visitors a month will pave the way for free and premium Internet experiences to users on mobile phones. Opening up free mobile Web sites is a way to assuage the publics fears that the mobile ads will be disruptive for handheld users.
"Accessing the Internet from a mobile phone will soon be as common as text messaging and voice calling, and its FIMs goal to deliver these new free, ad-supported experiences as additional options for our users on top of our incredibly popular premium mobile services," John Smelzer, senior vice president and general manager of mobile for Fox Interactive Media, said in a statement.
To populate its mobile sites, FIM has partnered with mobile ad network Millennial Media, which will sell and serve mobile-based ads.
The deal, for which financial terms have not been made public, calls for "custom sponsorship packages" within MySpace and traditional display-based ads with FIM properties IGN, FoxSports.com, AskMen and RottenTomatoes.com.
FIM said in the statement it will sell a limited number of charter sponsorships within MySpaces new mobile site over the next several months and open all advertising inventory by the end of the calendar year.
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