DoubleClick, Vindigo, OmniSky Team for Mobile Ad Tests

Putting its substantial weight behind two players in the nascent mobile advertising market, DoubleClick on Monday said it was joining with city guide publisher Vindigo and wireless access provider OmniSky, in an effort to create a viable business model for the new medium.

“These market trials will be an important step for the mobile ad industry by producing an empirical understanding of the mobile advertising model and consumer acceptance of mobile advertising,” said Jamie Byrne, strategic director for emerging platforms at DoubleClick.

The idea is to test advertising on both the Vindigo and OmniSky platforms, and gauge consumer acceptance — as well as advertiser interest. The companies hope to come up with ad formats and models that work with the smaller screen size and slower data delivery speeds endemic to wireless phones and PDAs, while protecting consumer privacy.

The deal is significant for the players and for the advertising industry as a whole. For Vindigo and OmniSky, the agreement means that DoubleClick — the industry’s biggest company — will back them and introduce them to its advertisers. For DoubleClick and the industry, the alliance represents a move toward more standardized ad formats and serving standards, which will be important to the adoption and growth of mobile advertising.

During the course of the market trials, DoubleClick will mobilize its sales force on behalf of the two smaller players, likely tapping its current advertisers to experiment in the new medium.

In the OmniSky trial, which is expected to begin in December and roll out fully next year, DoubleClick will also serve ads and measure results.

“The wireless Internet services industry has an opportunity to create an effective advertising model, if we stay focused on what is relevant to users and develop standards that work,” said Barak Berkowitz, president of OmniSky. “We are committed to advertising that adds to, rather than distracts from, the user experience. OmniSky will work closely with DoubleClick to ensure positive momentum for the entire industry.”

The Vindigo trial — which will be conducted in major metropolitan areas including New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston — is set to begin early next year, with results expected in mid 2001.

One big question about these tests: how will results be measured? Whether click-through, ad views, or some other metric should be used to measure mobile advertising has been a big issue for companies working to develop this new marketing medium.

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