RealTime IT News

Fox Interactive Sets Its Sites Free

Thanks to advertisers, mobile users hitting sites such as IGN, FOXSports, AskMen, RottenTomatoes.com and that social network MySpace will be able to do so for free.

As part of a deal with Millennial Media, Fox Interactive Media (FIM) will both sell and serve mobile-based ads, according to a statement. Formats will include custom sponsorship packages within MySpace and display advertising on the other FIM sites.

FIM said it will roll out the MySpace Mobile Web beta service this week. It will allow users to send and receive MySpace messages and Friend requests; comment on pictures and profiles; post bulletins; update blogs; find and search for Friends; and view or change mood status. Additional mobile offerings will be available in the coming months, the company said.

FIM added that it expects to sell a limited number of charter sponsorships for the mobile MySpace platform, opening the rest of its site inventory by the end of the calendar year.

"Accessing the Internet from a mobile phone will soon be as common as text messaging and voice calling," FIM executive John Smelzer said in a statement. "FIM is uniquely positioned to bring both free and premium Internet experiences to users on mobile phones."

A spokesman from FIM told InternetNews.com that some of the numbers it considered before striking the deal came from a January eMarketer report, which estimated worldwide spending on mobile advertising would grow from $1.5 billion in 2006 to $13.9 billion by 2011. That report also predicted the proportion of online ad budgets spent on mobile worldwide would grow to 21 percent by 2011, up from 5.4 percent in 2006.

FIM isn't the only company watching those numbers and buying into mobile Web advertising.

MySpace rival Facebook already offers free access to its site via mobile devices. In August, Facebook announced a new site designed just for iPhone at iphone.facebook.com.

In March, Yahoo launched Yahoo Mobile Publisher Services, which includes the Mobile Ad Network, Mobile Content Engine, Mobile Media Directory and Mobile Site Submit. The services are supposed to boost the distribution and money-making potential of content on mobile phones for publishers and advertisers in 19 countries.

AOL invested in mobile advertising in May, when it announced the acquisition of Third Screen Media, a mobile-advertising network and mobile ad-serving and management-platform provider.

The same month, Microsoft made its entry into mobile advertising by agreeing to purchase ScreenTonic SA for an undisclosed sum. ScreenTonic's STAMP advertising platform included an ad server to pipe banners and text ads over portals, interstitial in Java or MMS applications, video billboards and ad spots in SMS messages for all mobile platforms.

Search industry leader Google maintains a presence on the mobile Internet as well. At the Search Engine Strategies conference in August, Google's vice president of search products and user experience Marissa Mayer demonstrated the company's application for the iPhone.

Previously, FIM offered many of its Web sites on the mobile Web, but mostly through premium service, which it characterizes as "deeply optimized and integrated" on devices offered by AT&T, T-Mobile and Helio.