YouTube (s GOOG) has started to serve ads on mobile phones, but you may not even notice them. The online video platform is now serving display ads on m.youtube.com in the U.S. and Japan, according to a blog post, and will sell banner ads on a full-day basis. Today’s advertiser is Mazda, which bought the mobile ad in conjunction with its banner on the regular YouTube home page. The blog post reveals that YouTube has already run campaigns for Kia (s KIMTF) and Sony (s SNE) as well.
These ads do not, however, extend to custom YouTube interfaces like the one used by Google’s Android phones or Apple’s (s AAPL) iPhone, which is how I suspect most of us are accessing YouTube on the go. YouTube also told us that it hasn’t started to directly monetize the videos on mobile platforms. The lack of Flash on handsets may be one reason you won’t see any overlays on your handset yet, or the fact that YouTube isn’t showing any kind of pre-roll advertising to mobile users.
Still, YouTube’s new ad spot on its mobile site shows its commitment to monetization. Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney recently estimated that YouTube is going to make about $945 million this year through advertising. The site will top $1.1 billion in gross revenue in 2011, according to Mahaney’s predictions.
Related content on GigaOM Pro: The Attraction and Threat of Offer-Based Ads in Mobile (subscription required)