Microsoft said this morning that for the first time it is adding banner and text ads to its MSN Mobile properties in the U.S.
The ads, at mobile.msn.com, will start appearing today. After a brief look on my phone, I saw mostly Microsoft house ads, but then I found one on a sports story that asked me to take part in a survey.
For kicks, I clicked on the banner. The landing page thanked me and said my answers would not be sold or shared with anyone. I bravely continued. It asked me about 10 questions, ranging from what year I was born to my behavior on the phone and what I thought of certain banks.
The ad was clearly for one of Microsoft's three launch partners: Bank of America. The other two advertisers are Paramount Pictures and Jaguar, said Phil Holden, director of Microsoft's online services group.
Putting ads on the mobile Web is not new. In fact, a number of companies and online media brands have already been doing it for quite some time. Companies such as Third Screen Media, Medio Systems, Thumbplay and Admob are all active in the space.
For now, what Microsoft is doing is pretty limited. The ads don't take into account the user's search history, their location, or any other information. On the MSN search page, there are no relevant text links on the results page.
"That is in the pipeline, but it wasn't enabled on Monday," Holden said.
It will be launched when it's time, he added.
"Most consumers don't even know what they can do on the mobile phone today. If I talk to my friends outside of the technology space, they don't know you can get e-mail and IM on your phone. In many cases, the iPhone has helped that in terms of the hype it's gotten and awareness" he said.
The mobile ad-serving technology was created by Microsoft's Advertiser & Publisher Solutions Group and through the acquisition of ScreenTonic SA and aQuantive.
Here's a screen shot of what it will look like. Depending on your phone, the ad may appear as a text link or a banner.