Bellevue-based InfoSpace said today it is launching technology that has the ability to incorporate banner advertisements and promotion links into its search platform. (As a reminder, InfoSpace's mobile division was sold recently to Motricity. The transaction is pending customary closing procedures.)
As part of today's announcement, InfoSpace also reported how its so-called mCore Managed Web solution is performing on Virgin Mobile phones in the U.K.
The findings are interesting given the growing hype surrounding advertising and search on the mobile phone. There's a big question as to whether the dominant Internet players such as Yahoo or Google will prevail, or if white-label search provided by InfoSpace, Medio Systems or JumpTap will fair well.
From what InfoSpace says, its not doing too shabbily.
InfoSpace said since deploying the search capabilities, Virgin Mobile UK has seen users increase their mobile search page views by 50 percent. That translates to an overall 60 percent growth rate of all of its mobile search traffic.
Virgin saw not only an increase in Web activity, but also a jump in the purchase of downloads of graphics and games to ringtones and video -- because InfoSpace combines both Web search and the content sold by the carrier into one platform.
"There is a lot of speculation about whether carriers can deliver a mobile Web experience that will compete with third party offerings," said Steve Elfman, InfoSpace executive vice president of the company's mobile business unit.."Our partner's success shows that by bringing the Internet into a unified mobile search solution, carriers can deliver a superior, more powerful user experience and boost traffic across all services,"
More information can be found on InfoSpace's Web site, where there's a white paper describing Virgin Mobile's experiences with search.
I found an interesting tidbit supporting what Elfman says above and adds to the Google vs. white label debate.
InfoSpace said search page views doubled in the two months following the launch of Virgin Mobile's off-portal search to 3.8 million from 1.6 milion a month.
And while those searches were up, searches on Google, Yahoo! and Windows Live decreased "dramatically in the first month after launch, indicating that users are finding what they need without leaving the portal." it said.