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March 7, 2007

Nokia and mobile advertising

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 11:49 AM

Nokia said this week that it is launching two mobile advertising services called the Nokia Ad Service and the Nokia Advertising Connector.

The Nokia Ad Service is aimed at advertisers wanting to place targeted ads on mobile services and applications. The service consists of mobile publishers and a platform to help them deploy and manage mobile ad campaigns.

The Nokia Advertising Connector is for third-party publishers and advertising aggregators. It helps optimize the ads for the environment -- switching between text, visual, audio and video ads depending on the user's context and feeding the ad to the device.

"As advertisers struggle to reach personalized targeting with traditional media such as print and TV, mobile advertising is becoming an increasingly attractive channel for brands," said Tom Henriksson, director of Nokia Ad Service at Nokia Emerging Business Unit.

I talked with Nokia for my story on Monday about the promise of mobile advertising. I spoke with Tero Ojanperä, Nokia's chief technology officer, obviously before the company had made these announcements.

He said mobile advertising can take a number of forms, but for now it's somewhat limited.

"I think the more longer term potential here is to understand the different applications," he said. "If you were listening to music and were interested in the artist, there's a very discrete way for you to buy it."

I originally wanted to talk to Ojanperä because I had heard from a couple of sources that brands wanted to subsidize the cost of the phone to the consumer. I wanted to know how that would play out. Would the phone be red and sponsored by Coca-Cola? Or would the brand be able to dictate what was on the phone?

I figured Nokia would be very much interested in this concept because it would mean getting more expensive and more sophisticated phones into consumers' hands.

But phone subsidies don't seem to be in the works. "I haven't seen any player subsidize the phone," he said.

I suppose that could always change, though.

"This is very much an experimentation, it's not big yet, but it's being discussed more and more," he said.

After that conversation, I think I tracked down the original source of speculation that phones would be ad-subsidized. During an interview with Reuters, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said: "Your mobile phone should be free. It just makes sense that subsidies should increase" as advertising rises on mobile phones.

Well, Schmidt, I hope you are ready to write a check. I did a pretty thorough check and no one else seemed to be interested in coughing up dough. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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