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NAVTEQ Taps Operative For Ad Management

NAVTEQ, the Chicago-based digital mapping company, plans to announce today that it has inked a deal with Operative to manage its mobile and Internet inventory advertising systems.

The move capitalizes on two emerging consumer trends: the ascendancy of mobile advertising and the increasing demand for mobile navigation services. Also, faced with a fragmenting media landscape, publishers are increasingly rethinking the traditional media buy, looking instead for ways to manage campaigns across multiple channels.

"What's exciting about the NAVTEQ deal is that are starting to ask about ad plans that aren't just for online or mobile or print," Mike Leo, president and CEO of Operative, told InternetNews.com. "They want to engage consumers from all directions."

Operative is not the typical online advertising company. Rather than focus on one niche of the ad market, such as serving or sales, Operative works as an aggregator, bringing together the disparate technologies that a publisher uses into a single interface. Operative calls this market segment advertising resource management.

"What has made us unique is that we've taken the position that you don't want to go with one vendor for everything," Leo said. As rapidly as online advertising technologies are evolving, Leo said it is important for publishers to try a variety of providers.

Its product is called the Operative Dashboard, which is already used by big media companies like NBC, The Wall Street Journal and all of the Fox Interactive Media properties, including MySpace.

With those companies, Operative had mainly been managing Internet technologies, with some work in offline media. Reuters, for instance, sells ads on its Times Square billboard in New York using Operative's technology.

But the NAVTEQ deal is Operative's first entrée into mobile advertising management, said Leo, who co-founded aQuantive, the advertising company that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) purchased last year for $6.1 billion. At the moment, mobile advertising is still a nascent economy, but it is one that many analysts feel is poised for vigorous growth in the next several years.

Of course, the mobile opportunities for Operative in a NAVTEQ deal are not limited to managing ads for Traffic.com and its other Web properties.

In October, Nokia (NYSE: NOK) struck a deal to acquire NAVTEQ for $8.1 billion. Last week, European regulators opened an in-depth review of the transaction. Assuming it clears, Operative could then have an inroad to manage ad technologies for the world's largest handset maker.

Leo declined to comment on specific business opportunities that the Nokia acquisition could bring, saying only that the growth of Operative's business partners is good for the company.

Terms of today's deal have not been disclosed.