A couple of days ago Microsoft bought French mobile ad firm Screen Tonic, after talks with US firm Third Screen Media came to nought. “You need subject-matter experts that can deal with game publishers; [with mobile] you need subject-matter experts that can deal with carriers and Screen Tonic has that,” said Joe Doran, general manager of Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions when talking aobut the acquisition with Ad Age.
Aiming for carriers: “One of the reasons we looked at ScreenTonic is its solution is actually supporting a carrier and an operator’s needs,” said Doran, adding that Microsoft is keen to sell ads on the carrier portals. Microsoft aims to do targeted advertising — Screen Tonic can do basic targeting by handset, carrier and site — and Microsoft hopes it can get some additional info from the carrier to get data like gender or geo-location. “It’s probably not as robust as we would want it to be, but it’s as good as what everybody is doing in geo-based targeting on mobile advertising today.” The deals will mainly be in Screen Tonic’s base of Western Europe in the near future, with Doran saying it will take a while for MS to expand globally…but that is the eventual plan.
Ad rates to stay high: Doran also said he thinks ad rates will stay high on the CPM basis (which is how MS plans to sell the ads). “I believe CPMs will stay in the $25 to $50 range for a while as this medium grows. High content, highly contextually targeted, high value placements will drive high value CPMs,” he said. There’re some convincing arguments for that, but a lot of people remember the online ad meltdown several years ago — in the end advertisers will only pay high rates if they get the response from consumers.