Bigger Is Better: Mojiva Debuts Tablet-Only Ad Network, Smartphones Sold Separately

Mojiva, the mobile advertising network, is today opening a new chapter in its bid to carve out a space for itself in the still-young market for mobile advertising: it is launching Mojiva Tab, an ad network aimed at inventory that will only be delivered on tablets.

Mojiva, which focuses on display and rich-media ad formats and says its network covers 1.1 billion devices globally, representing 8,000 mobile and tablet publishers and apps, will continue to sell inventory on smartphones. But it says that this move makes it the first ad network to focus only on the tablet market — a sign not only of how pricing for the two formats is diverging, but also of how the tablet market continues to grow and develop its own usage characteristics independent of how smartphones are being used.

“Buyers can still purchase smartphone campaigns from Mojiva, but the difference with Mojiva Tab is that there will dedicated resources developing packages, securing new publishers and app content in the tablet space,” David Gwozdz, CEO of Mojiva, tells TechCrunch. “This will be a more sophisticated way of of buying campaigns on both platforms.” In contrast to something like Apple’s iAd, which does offer a dedicated tablet buy but only for Apple’s iPad tablets, Mojiva will be focusing on all tablets — for example, those powered by Microsoft but also Android and iPad.

The mobile advertising market is still a relatively nascent space: figures out from the IAB last week put the share of revenues coming from ads on mobile devices in the U.S. at 7% of all online ad revenues in the first half of 2012 — or $1.2 billion out of a $17 billion total. However, the forecast is for mobile ads to bring in $20.6 billion in revenues by 2015 worldwide, meaning that those who can establish a strong position now may be better equipped to capitalize on growth later.

In Mojiva’s view, that’s playing out in how many tablets are appearing on its network. In June, the company said the network touched 40 million tablet devices, up from only three million in January 2011, and 25 million in January 2012. Meanwhile, the number of tablet ad requests per month on the Mojiva ad network, it says, has experienced a nearly 20-fold increase in 20 months: from 119 million in January 2011 to 2.13 billion tablet ad requests per month in August 2012.

Gwozdz says that the fact that users are generally more engaged on tablet devices — they are the preferred mobile medium for reading, video consumption and other kinds of long-form viewing compared to smartphones — and the fact that the actual size of ads is bigger, gives tablets higher CPMs than smartphones at the moment. Launching an advertising network dedicated to the medium will play into that by allowing ad buyers to build demand for inventory specifically on tablets.

It’s interesting to ponder the timing of this announcement. Mojiva has an existing commercial relationship with Microsoft for mobile advertising — the two signed a deal in 2011 for Mojiva to handle display ads on Microsoft’s network — and given that Microsoft is soon to unveil Windows 8 to the world, with a commercial rollout of tablets using the OS, this deal could see Mojiva also powering a new format for advertising on those devices. Gwozdz says he “can’t confirm any partnership specifics at this stage” with Microsoft.

The impact of that, in any case, will be more down to how well those Windows 8 tablets sell.

Gwozdz acknowledges that today it’s still mainly an iPad game. “iPad is definitely the front runner,” he says. “[But] I have no doubt that as tablets become more and more common place, this will shift. There are now so many phenomenal tablets in the market and we are seeing a huge surge in IT spending for corporate tablets in lieu of laptops. This is a huge new element in tablet sales and a great new opportunity for brand advertisers.”

Mojiva is launching its new network with some brands, including what Gwozdz describes as a “major B2C technology brand, along with a luxury auto brand,” but he is not naming names.

Mojiva Tab will be rolled out in two phases: first, advertisers and agencies can purchase tablet inventory and rich media advertising in a straight buy.

Then, in late Q4, advertisers and agencies will be able to add audience targeting to campaigns in six audience channels: luxury goods, entertainment, news, parenting, tech enthusiasts and sports enthusiasts. That second phase will also include specific device targeting (e.g. iPad, Nexus 7, Samsung Galaxy, Kindle Fire, etc.), mobile web and tablet app targeting, and “day-parting” and keyword targeting that are not channel specific.

Celtra, which provides analytics and other ad tech around rich media ads, will be a partner in the Mojiva Tab effort.