Opera Software is the newest player in the mobile ad segment, with today’s acquisition of AdMarvel. The move could go a long way toward increasing ad revenues on feature phones — a segment that has largely been ignored as mobile ads gain momentum on smartphones.

Opera Software has joined the mobile advertising crowd, shelling out as much as $23 million to acquire AdMarvel in an effort to create a new way to drive revenues through its highly popular mobile browsers. The Norwegian developer will pay $8 million in cash and up to $15 million more if certain financial targets are met over the next two years. The move comes amid a flurry of M&A activity in the space in recent weeks.

A San Mateo, Calif.-based startup, AdMarvel helps publishers and carriers to source, manage and track advertising across ad networks. The company last year launched an iPhone advertising toolkit designed to enable app developers to integrate ads from ad networks into their applications. AdMarvel was founded in 2006 under the name Frengo and has reportedly raised $8 million in funding.

While much of the recent activity in the mobile ad space has focused on smartphones, Opera’s entry to the market could help boost ad revenues on feature phones. The company has seen tremendous success with Opera Mini, a mobile browser designed primarily to format web content for mass-market handsets. Opera two months ago claimed 41.7 million users downloaded consumers used Opera Mini in November, more than doubling the browser’s user base in a year. Ramping up advertising on those phones through Opera Mini would give the overall mobile ad market a major lift (GigaOM Pro, sub. required).

Image courtesy Flickr user andyket.

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  1. Interesting move which validate the long standing speculation that Opera Might start offering Advertisement . I think it will be an opt in advertisment program . With everyone in value chain from Handset OEM (Apple ,Google ) ,Portal (YAHOO AoL) to Telco to App Store guys to Browser companies trying to get in to this space,things will be interesting in time to come . it will no doubt be difficult for 3rd party Mobile advertisement firms to sign up new advertiser or command CPM rates .specially in such a down economy and competitive market . There might be lucky few to see an acquisitions but by and large i guess there will be blood on the street . Ad Agencies and Media Planner seems to be the only one who will come out smiling .what do you think ?

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