U.S. users of Microsoft’s MSN Mobile began to see advertisements on the service for the first time yesterday. Users in Belgium, France, Japan, Spain and the U.K. have been viewing ads for a while now. The technology for mobile advertisements comes from a recent acquisition by Microsoft of ScreenTonic. Paramount Pictures and Jaguar Cars are among the first companies to advertise on MSN Mobile in the U.S. market.
Microsoft has had a slow start when it comes to bringing PC-based online advertising to mobile users but the company has the potential to catch its competitors soon. “AOL and Yahoo have previously introduced display ads, but the mobile user base is still on the small side compared to the Net, so they’re not truly late,” said Greg Sterling, an analyst following mobile search as part of a joint venture between Sterling Market Research and Opus Research. “It’s not like there’s a huge opportunity cost here or revenue lost.” Google also supports ads for mobile users.
Sterling thinks mobile advertising is comparable to PC advertising in terms of market share from search leaders. But because the mobile market is so small right now and ripe for change, any market participant could take the lead. “It’ll continue to be fluid for the foreseeable future,” he said.
Microsoft didn’t just stick MSN Mobile users with new ads. A new feature allows you to buy movie tickets over the network through MovieTickets. There is a deal in the works with Thumbplay to offer ringtones, wallpaper, games and video clips. Mobile users can get daily horoscopes too. I portend great profits for MSN Mobile.