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Nokia jumps on mobile ad-wagon

But still 'experimenting'

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In many early wireless internet ad models, users accept ads in return for incentives - a lower broadband rate or free voice minutes, for instance, as with the Virgin Mobile USA and Blyk approaches.

While these may be useful techniques for certain MVNOs or even selected target customer bases of major cellcos, they will put further pressure on ARPU and are only appealing to operators when they control the customer and the ad, and so take the lion's share of the revenue from the ad.

In a more open world, where Nokia might be serving ads to customers directly alongside web services, the operator's share of the revenue is marginalised.

In its Handmark partnership, Nokia will offer ad serving and media sales, while its new friend will use the Nokia Ad Platform to serve ads in its Pocket Express mobile service, targeted at high income professionals, an attractive demographic for advertisers.

While Nokia has not, as yet, made as much noise about its advertising ambitions as its web content services, it is building up this business behind the scenes, a process that should accelerate now it has Enpocket.

Last month, the handset giant said that Land Rover, a subsidiary of Ford, would use its mobile ad platform to serve ads that permit links to the carmaker's websites, download video of the new LR3 model.

Also, users can enter a zip code to learn of nearby dealerships, an early step towards the location aware advertising on which Nokia and Google are pinning high hopes. Nokia claims an unquantified but "very high" conversion rate from the Land Rover ads, in terms of people who then choose to visit a showroom.

Baker said in an interview with RCRnews: "We're in a period of experimentation. The beauty of mobile, with Nokia's solution, is that you can take an ad campaign around the world on one platform" – far more easily than with the less ubiquitous PC.

Six-year-old Enpocket was one of the first players in the mobile marketing space, and has carried out ad campaigns for brands such as PepsiCo. It delivers mobile ads via text, WAP and MMS or audio messaging.

Sprint Nextel was the first carrier to use Enpocket to sell adverts on its mobile inventory and the smaller player has since signed similar deals with Vodafone and Bharti Airtel. Nokia will use Enpocket to sell and deliver ads on its own mobile applications and web pages.

"Nokia has already announced its intention to be a leading company in consumer internet services, and we believe that mobile advertising will be an important element in monetising those services for our customers and partners," said Nokia CTO Tero Ojanpera at the time of the purchase.

"This acquisition is a game-changing move to bring the reach and depth of Nokia to organise the market across the world, and make it easier for an ecosystem to develop."

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Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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