Mobile Ad Firm Outsources Sales

Mobile ad companies focused on building technology for ad serving are finding it’s better to outsource the sales of such ads. Amobee, a mobile advertising solutions firm based in San Francisco, said yesterday it would hand over select mobile advertising inventory managed by the firm to Winstar Interactive Media’s Interep unit.

“We said roughly nine or 10 months ago… that no one mobile advertising company was capable to sell all ads,” said Roger Wood, SVP and general manager of the Americas region for Amobee. “It’s highly unlikely that an anemic ad sales team of 25 people can cover the whole country.”

Contrary to the Web, where some inventory can be bought in a self serve format, Wood said mobile still requires the articulation of a sales person. Amobee believes there are two ways to sell inventory: through the carriers themselves, or through a trusted alliance with a media sales house. Amobee has partnered with a number of media agencies in the past, and chose to forge a relationship with Interep to create a dedicated sales agency for programs running in the U.S. with sales reps assigned to particular carriers. A carrier relationship served by this deal is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Mobile is new to Interep, and the firm hopes to open mobile advertising up to a wider number of advertisers. “Our partnership with Amobee will enable advertisers to better understand mobile inventory and will encourage brands and media buyers to take advantage of the opportunities in mobile advertising,” said Adam Guild, president and CEO of Winstar Interactive. The agency brings credibility through the Winstar and Interep names, and Amobee expects salespeople will be trained in mobile and will sell only mobile ads.

The practice of outsourcing ad sales is not limited to Amobee. Paris-based SBW contracts with media agencies to sell ads. “We partner with media companies, they sell the ads on the network we’ve created, and that’s working well,” said Paul Amsellem, CEO of SBW.

Where Ansellem disagrees with Amobee’s strategy is selling the individual mobile platform. “Selling only on the mobile is not the best strategy, you at least have to get two channels,” he said. “We want to sell ads to brands, it’s easier to sell cross-media.”

The Amobee relationship marks Winstar’s entry into mobile. “In terms of one-to-one marketing, the mobile advertising market is just the natural progression for interactive advertising,” said Guild. “The reason being really simple — it can really target specific people just before they are going to make that purchase.”

Interep has trained a staff in mobile. “We have captains that are going to specifically head up the Amobee division,” Guild said. While the team will sell only mobile, he expects to progress to the point of being able to refer sales, if not sell complete packages on multiple channels including mobile.

Publishers of mobile content also recognize the necessity of appointing an established outside media sales team. Yojo Mobile’s recently launched MizPee will have local ad reps in each city to start, but the company plans to turn over responsibility of sales to an outside team in the future.

Amobee provides ad serving technology primarily for mobile companies developing content for carriers. Programs include insertion of ads into games and text messages.

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