Jumpin’ tapMatch takes on Google mobile AdWords

A new mobile pay-per-click ad service launched recently called tapMatch is taking on Google’s mobile AdWords.

Mobile search and advertising startup Jumptap’s tapMatch lets advertisers pay to have text ads placed next to keywords on mobile Web sites, search results and applications, very much like Google’s mobile PPC service.

The difference is that tapMatch lets advertisers target specific phones and carriers, which is important because mobile handsets run on different platforms and so not all downloads work across the board.

“Think about how Google revolutionized online ads with AdWords,” CMO Paran Johar said. “That’s what we’ll do with mobile ads because there’s no self-serve platform out there that lets you do this on the keyword level, at the handset level, not Google, not Yahoo, not Microsoft.”

TapMatch builds audience profiles from multiple sources, including search queries, context and click-through history, to match the most relevant ad messages to each mobile consumer, said Johar. Advertisers maximize performance by targeting keywords, categories, location, demographics, mobile carrier, publisher and smartphones including Blackberry and iPhone models.

And while it may seem that taking on Google is hype for the service, it appears the burgeoning mobile ad market has plenty of room for more than one player. With a slew of new smartphones rolling out this summer, notably the Palm Pre, new BlackBerry Storms, a rumored iPhone and Android-based handsets from Samsung and HTC, there seems to be room for growth in mobile advertising. Plus, the success of smartphone apps is spawning a whole new way for marketers to interact beyond the banner ad.

Johar said he doesn’t see smartphone adoption cooling down anytime soon, either.
“It’s a cultural phenomenon, just like broadband was in terms of, at some point, no one has dial-up, people are like, ‘You still have dial-up instead of broadband?’ They just can’t believe it. That’s also driving mobile usage. People just won’t settle for a regular cell phone, they’re going to have to have a smartphone.”

Apparently Johar’s quite convincing: Jumptap has raised $72 million to-date, including a $26 million round last August.

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