Cellphone Ads on the Way
Mobile advertising has been pegged by many as the next great way to reach consumers. And it could rewrite the current cellphone business model. Yesterday I had the chance to sit down with Mark Ein, founder and CEO of VentureHouse Group in D.C. He's invested in a wide range of technology companies, including XM Satellite Radio, and is known around here for having a great eye for tech trends.
One of his companies is Mobile Posse, based in McLean, Va. Founded by former AOL executives, Mobile Posse makes deals with wireless carriers to get ads in front of cellphones users. Customers can opt into receiving ads on handsets based on their ZIP codes, age group, gender and other demographic information. The ads disappear when the phone is in use. Wireless companies get a share of the ad revenue.
So, say you're walking off a plane in an unfamiliar city. Your phone would automatically detect your location and send you ads about car rentals, restaurant specials and nearby hotels.
Mobile Posse's been working with smaller regional carriers, such as Revol Wireless in Ohio, and hopes to soon roll out the service with other major carriers. Just yesterday, Mobile Posse announced its second round of funding of $10 million.
Getting these types of services on cellphones and other devices may get easier now that some wireless carriers are taking steps to give third-party companies access to their networks, which means they can offer their products to more customers. Ein said that could change the game for lots of companies trying to break into the mobile advertising market.
Now the big question is whether customers will actually want to get ads on their cellphones.
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