DoubleClick Launches Site-Side Mobile Ad Management, Advertiser Version in Development

After hinting for months that a mobile ad management product was in the works, DoubleClick has finally produced the technology. DoubleClick Mobile will integrate with DART for Publishers to provide ad trafficking and yield optimization for campaigns designed to appear on phones.

Additionally, the company plans to release a mobile ad management product for advertisers sometime in 2008, according to Ari Paparo, DoubleClick’s VP of rich media and emerging technologies.

“The product is oriented toward media companies that are publishing mobile,” Paparo said. “What we’ve seen over the past year is the approach of a tipping point. Most media companies are publishing mobile content and are monetizing that. It’s getting to the point where it’s common enough that they’re looking for a solution to sell that inventory themselves and make more money.”

While the traffic to mobile sites is still small — DoubleClick estimates typical impressions for major publishers are from 10 to 100 million impressions a month — “Almost everyone’s seeing very strong growth,” said Paparo. Response rates for such campaigns also tend to be very strong, though that’s typical with any nascent medium. As a result, CPMs for the channel are at a premium, in the realm of $20 or more.

DoubleClick Mobile aims to bring “a lot of heavy iron” to the developing marketplace for ads on handsets. The product is capable of pairing ads with content according to the screen size and capabilities of the device being used to view them, and supports device-specific previews for each ad position and execution. In addition to standard mobile display ads, it supports ad formats such as combination ads and roadblocks. Through pixel-based ad tracking, agencies and other third parties can access campaign performance data through their own campaign reporting systems.

Mobile ad networks such as AdMob and Third Screen Media, operated by AOL’s, already offer publisher-side ad management products but Paparo said the DoubleClick product will provide more options and better performance to publishers that want to sell direct.

“In every emerging marketplace, when it’s new it’s too much of a burden to build a technology and a sales force,” he said. “Typically the first players in any market combine those. Over time, especially if they’re successful, their clients say I’m now getting a check every month from these vendors. Our role in the marketplace is not to replace ad networks, but to give publishers a tool a magnitude better than what networks offer.”

DoubleClick’s most direct competitor is Microsoft-owned aQuantive’s Atlas division, which currently offers basic ads on WAP sites through a licensing relationship with a mobile application company, according to an executive. Atlas declined to identify the technology partner.

DoubleClick said the types of publishers most likely to benefit from its product are mainstream publishers and ad networks that are already working with a number of publisher partners and want to add mobile capabilities. Carriers that have begun to deliver ads directly to mobile users are also a third potential customer pool.

DoubleClick Mobile is launching simultaneously in the U.S. and Europe, a first for a DoubleClick product, and much of the development process was handled by its European operation. Next year, the company plans to release a more comprehensive mobile ad management suite that includes tools for agencies to plan and track their mobile campaigns.

“There aren’t any comprehensive ad serving tools for the buy side right now,” said Paparo. “Talking to our customers on the agency side, it’s a pretty high priority for them.”

DoubleClick Mobile comes just a week after Google, its probable soon-to-be parent, opened publisher enrollment for its AdSense for Mobile program. Despite the competitive advantage integration of the two systems would likely confer on the combined company, or perhaps because of that advantage, DoubleClick executives continue to downplay network sales and instead promote the firm’s focus on enabling publishers that want to sell direct.

“If you look at the DoubleClick product base on the publisher side, the vast majority use networks,” said Paparo. “There’s really a symbiotic relationship between the ad serving and the networks. That said, I doubt very highly any of them are using a single network. They’re all using multiple networks. We think our strategy of having the preeminent ad server… and independent tools, is the best solution for a publisher to maximize their yield.”

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