I’ve recently been researching a fascinating startup called AdMob. After doing some research, I would compare them to the DoubleClick of mobile – they essentially are a mobile ad platform that brings together advertisers who want to spend marketing dollars to reach people, with developer, who are building mobile webpages, and, most recently, iPhone and Android apps.
They provide a mechanism for a web develop of a mobile site like ESPN.com to easily monetize their traffic by embedding ads on the page. But this is just the beginning. AdMob has really gotten traction as the iPhone has taken off, becoming the du jour app platform for iPhone app developers. Now, with the mobile operators getting into a tizzy over Android, and the Verizon Droid the latest in a wave of phones claiming to be the iPhone killer, AdMob is ramping up activity to support and help monetize new apps written for the Android OS.
From a marketing point of view, I’m very impressed with the way AdMob has positioned themselves as a key indicator for the mobile industry. Similar to ComScore and other such trackers online, AdMob has chosen to publicly release data about the number of ads they are serving across their network, broken out by mobile platforms, which has positioned them as a key indicator, even being cited by Apple, in demonstrating the growth of the iPhone and the iPhone app ecosystem. By releasing that data, they essentially get free press every time Apple mentions AdMob on an Apple investors call or in a press release.
This syngergy has gone so far that there were even acquisition rumors that Apple might try to buy AdMob. This makes sense if one considers that by buying AdMob Apple would essentially be able to offer App developers two monetization vehicles. Apple has already stated that it will support in-app purchasing for developers, allowing them to sell online through the iPhone using Apple technology. By buying AdMob, Apple would be able to add to that the opportunity for iPhone developers to monetize through online advertising. The downside would be destroying a burgeoning ecosystm of mobile app advertising companies like AdMob. Furthermore, bloggers later pointed out the unlikelihood of the acquisition rumors, pointing out that Apple’s DNA is that of a high-margin hardware company, and that AdMob’s low-margin online advertising business model would not mesh well.
Competitors include MobClix, which has taken a different tack. They have positioned themselves as a clearinghouse of ad inventory, allowing Advertising.com and other partners to sell mobile ad inventory alongside traditional online banner ad inventory, in an effort to offer advertisers more scale and a one-stop-shopping experience. MobClix claims that this has driven them to become the largest, whereas AdMob still claims to be the largest as well.
Turns out I’m not the only one who has become interested in AdMob. I had signed up for their Twitter feed and mailing list, and then today I got this email from their CEO (TC has embedded it in their post as well). Turns out they announced this morning that they’re being acquired by Google. For $750 million no less. Exciting stuff for the few friends that I have over there. If they got in before Series C funding, they’re liable to make quite a pretty penny. Congratulaitons to all.