Wikimedia Partners With Orange in European Content Deal

European mobile network operator Orange has partnered with Wikipedia’s parent, Wikimedia, to publish ad-supported, co-branded content across its mobile and Web portals. These services will initially be rolled out in the U.K., France, Poland and Spain, extending to further Orange territories in the future.

Although Wikipedia content can already be re-published legally under the free license used by Wikimedia sites, this is the first time the foundation itself has struck a corporate deal of this nature, which will permit Orange to make full use of its branding and trademarks.

Orange sales staff will sell inventory across the resulting properties, which will be hosted by the telecom provider itself, and Wikimedia will receive a share of the revenue generated.

“Wikipedia is for everyone, and we expect to attract a wide range of users to the Wikipedia sections of the Orange portals. As a result, we expect our advertisers to represent a similarly diverse pool of companies,” an Orange spokesperson told ClickZ.

As well as creating specific Wikipedia channels, relevant content from across Orange’s online properties will link to relevant Wikipedia information. The firms will also seek to jointly develop a range of widgets to enable direct access to content through mobile devices and PCs, and will engage in joint research and development into further services across mobile, internet, TV and IPTV platforms.

“Our mission is to disseminate educational materials as widely as possible; we are happy to partner with both non-commercial and commercial entities to achieve that goal,” a press release from Wikimedia stated today. “The Wikimedia Foundation projects are free of advertising, and we don’t expect that will ever change,” it adds.

Though this is the first deal of its kind, Wikipedia points out that it is not exclusive, and hints that further relationships would be welcomed. “Businesses can help us reach more people… We aspire to develop a large and diverse global network of partners, supporters, participants and friends.” It also points out, as a non-profit organization, that all revenue accrued through the deal will be invested in further “programs and activities designed to help advance [its] overall organizational mission.”

Orange claims its properties currently attract around 55 million unique visitors per month.

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