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Updated: Apple’s iAd in Europe Starts December With Unilever, InBev

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Six months after launch, some more international expansion for Apple’s iAd advertising platform. This week, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) is reportedly set to announce its first European partners for iAd. The news follows on the heels of last week’s deal to take iAds to Japan, in partnership with Japanese agency Dentsu.

The news was first reported over the weekend by the FT. No specific clients are named in that story.

The European launch of iAd has not come without hiccups. The report notes that Apple had “twice delayed” the iAd launch in recent weeks. And it has been willing to bend on its $1 million minimum campaign spend rule in order to attract top brands to the platform. Two or three campaigns are likely to run in early December, but most will not go live until early next year, it says.

According to analysts at mobileSQUARED, the ‘big five’ European mobile markets of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK will together generate a combined €88 million ($120 million) in revenues from mobile advertising in 2010. That’s a league behind Japan, which is expected to have some $1 billion in mobile advertising revenues; and the U.S. market, which it says is around one-third the size of Japan’s (analysts at Smaato put the U.S. figure somewhat higher, at nearly $800 million).

Still, signing on some European brands would still be a significant move for Apple, not least to demonstrate that the iAd platform is continuing to gain momentum.

iAd, which went live nearly six months ago, has been the relative slow burner in Apple’s wireless business. After Apple boasted it had already booked some $60 million in iAd advertising at launch, it then went a little quiet, giving iAd only a passing mention in its last quarterly presentation.

That stands in contrast to the blazing success of Apple’s devices. Apple says the iPhone sold “well over three million” devices in its first three weeks of launch this past summer.

Update: On November 18, Apple confirmed the European launch. First ads will run in the U.K. and France starting December; Germany will come online in January. The first advertisers announced are L’Oréal, Renault, Louis Vuitton, Nespresso, Perrier, Unilever, Citi, Evian, LG (SEO: 066570) Display, AB InBev, Turkish Airlines and Absolute Radio.

In a blog post, Absolute Radio calls itself the “exclusive” radio partner for iAd at launch. It has been one of the more ambitious UK radio broadcasters when it comes to mobile and has to date seen 1.5 million downloads of its 19 apps.

Apple has not given a figure for how much the European advertisers represent in terms of revenues booked.