Advertising network NetworkPlay is going after the next big hype – mobile advertising. In a newsletter sent out by Founder & CEO Rammohan Sundaram, the company has announced that they soft launched the mobile advertising network, with Ericsson as a partner for ad serving. MediaNama had contacted Sundaram multiple times in April for a confirmation on a tie-up with Ericsson for mobile ad serving, but never received a confirmation of the same.
In the newsletter, Sundaram says that they “are confident that this quarter of JAS we will be unleashing the power of mobile in the market in full throttle.” A self-aggrandizing statement at best; full throttle on an engine with very little fuel won’t go too far: unlike the mobile space itself, mobile advertising in India is still in its infancy. The audience, pageviews and impressions might be there – AdMob claims to have served over a billion impressions in March 2010 – but ad networks are finding it difficult to convince advertisers to come on board. It is a very very hard sell; InMobi had to go outside India because there just wasn’t enough money in mobile advertising from the Indian market.
Perhaps an increase in supply of inventory, and a push towards mobile advertising from multiple entities – AdMob, InMobi, NetworkPlay and even NAVTEQ, might reduce the time required for mobile advertising to mature in India, to less than the 5-8 Years that Ravi Kiran of Starcom had suggested.
NetworkPlay says that it has the mandate to sell advertising on Web18’s properties, which were revamped recently. Since the ad serving on Web18’s properties is being powered by vServ, it’s likely that Network18’s deal with Web18 is for sales only, i.e., site representation. Either way, NetworkPlay benefits from having Web18 properties on board, as known brands for attracting advertisers to the mobile medium. Keep in mind that NetworkPlay is backed by Capital18, the venture capital investments arm of the Network18 group, of which Web18 is already part.
Last year, NDTV Convergence had outsourced mobile ad sales to Affle.