AOL Takes Third Screen to Mobile Ad Party

The mobile Internet may not have many users yet, but there is already a crowd of companies preparing to profit when adoption increases.

Today, AOL joined that crowd when it announced the acquisition of Third Screen Media, a mobile-advertising network and mobile ad-serving and management-platform provider. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Third Screen Media connects advertisers, publishers and mobile phone carriers on a common platform, allowing ads to be managed and delivered via WAP, downloadable applications, SMS, MMS and mobile video.

AOL said dozens of brand advertisers, over a hundred mobile Web publishers, and wireless carriers participate in the Third Screen Media network.

AOL fully expects the number of participants to exponentially increase.

Citing numbers from metrics firm eMarketers, AOL said that in the U.S., mobile advertising is expected to grow from $421 million in 2006 to $4.7 billion by 2011, while globally the market is expected to increase to $11.3 billion by the same year.

The TimeWarner company is not alone in its optimism for the mobile market.

Fewer than two weeks ago, Microsoft established its own mobile advertising storefront by agreeing to purchase ScreenTonic SA for an undisclosed sum.

Yahoo launched Yahoo Mobile Publisher Services, which includes a Mobile Ad Network, Mobile Content Engine, Mobile Media Directory and a Mobile Site Submit. That announcement followed several from Yahoo intended to push its mobile platform, oneSearch.

Google is well into the mobile advertising game, too. It’s making plans for iPhone integration, testing how the sponsored links that drive its profits will work on mobile devices.

IAC company only yesterday introduced a GPS-enabled application for mobile devices. The application has room for plenty of advertising, Ask vice president Doug Leeds told

All this, despite the fact that during January, only 17 percent of the 176 million U.S. PC Web users accessed the Web from a mobile device, according to media metrics firm.

Based on those numbers, you certainly can’t argue that the industry isn’t planning ahead.

AOL said that Third Screen Media will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of AOL’s division and will continue to be headquartered in Boston.

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