FTC Approval Paves Way For Microsoft To Make A Move In Mobile Advertising

There’s one thing for sure now: Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) won’t have a chance to buy the largest mobile advertising network now that Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has received approval to go-ahead with its $750 million acquisition of AdMob.

But seriously, the FTC’s unanimous decision today does two major things for the mobile advertising industry: One it rules out that anyone else will get a chance to buy AdMob, and two, it signals that any other deals will likely get a green light by the government now that Google and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) have picked up the largest and second-largest start ups in the space without a hitch.

With Google and Apple pouring massive amounts of resources into the space, Microsoft, in particular, but also Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), will be pressured to crank up the heat. The easiest way to catch-up would be to acquire one of the remaining independent mobile ad networks. IDC Analyst Karsten Weide speculated before the Google-AdMob deal was approved that Microsoft was waiting in the wings to see if it could acquire AdMob second-hand. “I’d be very surprised if they didn’t look at acquiring a mobile ad network, and the same goes for Yahoo!.”

Some of the start-ups remaining include: Millennial Media, Jumptap, Greystripe, Mojiva and many more. But Weide said that the fact that neither Microsoft or Yahoo acquired any of those options over the past six months while Google and Apple pushed forward with their deals, leads him believe that they are not a good fit.

Despite that, many of the start-ups issued bullish statements today on how the acquisition is good news for the space. Jumptap’s CEO Dan Olschwang, also believed that it was only the beginning of further consolidation. “We also think that this will not be the last of many interesting acquisitions, mergers, and partnerships.”

Here’s IDC’s list of the top mobile ad networks, according to estimated U.S. mobile advertising revenues in 2009: