iCrossing Intros Mobile Ad Unit

Search-focused agency iCrossing has created a mobile advertising and search unit, dubbed mCrossing, to assist its clients with marketing on phones and other handheld devices.

The division’s services include creating a mobile presence for clients, developing messaging campaigns, and optimizing content for discovery through mobile search interfaces. Other offerings will include local services, e-commerce and billing, the company said.

Additionally, mCrossing has a tracking platform it calls Interest2Action, which includes first party cookie tracking and customized reports.

“Mobile search is an area that, depending on who you read, is ramping up for imminent takeoff to takeoff in the next… year-and-a-half,” said Noah Elkin, iCrossing’s director of industry relations. “We want to make sure we’re there in advance of that. When our clients start asking us, ‘What can you do for us on mobile?’ we want to make sure we’re there with the carriers, partners and aggregators.”

The interest of search companies, content providers and ad agencies in mobile search has increased of late. Google and Yahoo have actively developed their mobile interfaces, and numerous media companies, including The New York Times, are staffing up to enhance distribution of their content in the channel. Google received a boost last month through a deal with Motorola, in which the latter agreed to add a dedicated “Google” button to some of its handsets.

However, the viability of paid ads in the mobile search environment is far from certain. Of more immediate concern to iCrossing is optimizing content on handheld devices.

“It’s more than just making sure your site shows up on mobile devices,” said Elkin. “It’s making sure the user experience you provide on mobile devices is one that will be compelling and keep them coming back.”

iCrossing has been among the first interactive agencies to take an interest in mobile search. The company joined the Mobile Marketing Association last fall, and serves on the association’s mobile search working group.

In December, 4 million people used Yahoo’s mobile search interface, while Google had slightly more than that, at 4.5 million, according to M:Metrics. Search services from MSN and AOL trailed, at just over a million users each.

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