Blog Post

Mobile Advertising: MoPub Gets Seed Funding, Viacast Launches

Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is disproportionately ahead of everyone else in when it comes to mobile advertising, but given that only about three percent of digital ad spend goes to mobile at the moment, there is clearly still room for growth. That premise is fuelling the emergence of more players vying for a piece of the action: among them, mobile ad server MoPub has picked up seed funding from Accel Partners and Harrison Metal Capital; and newcomer Viacast Mobile has launched its platform too.

MoPub has a bit of Silicon Valley fairy dust around it already: it was founded by ex-Google/AdMob employees Jim Payne, Bryan Atwood and Nafis Jamal. It first made itself known at AngelPad, a startup incubator also run by ex-Googlers. And now its early investors are Rich Wong of Accel Partners and Michael Dearing of Harrison Metal Capital, high-profile VCs that have already invested in other mobile ad and mobile app efforts such as AdMob and GetJar.

Michael Dearing, from MoPub’s blog: “With the deep background of the founders and investors in the mobile advertising space, MoPub is well positioned to understand what publishers need to make the most money from their apps as possible.”

MoPub has been described as the “DoubleClick of mobile”: it provides monetization services specifically for mobile apps, offering not just inventory management for banners, but also services to launch different kinds of formats using rich media and interstitials. It seems to imply that it can work across different ad networks (such as iAd, Admob and AdSense) as well as directly with advertisers. No full name of clients yet but games maker Booyah has already been “working” with it.

Financial terms of the investment have not been disclosed.

Meanwhile, another launch this week shows that it’s not only about big names making way in the market. Over in Denver, Viacast Mobile is launching its own mobile ad platform. “I feel the key for us will be focusing more on targeting capabilities rather than just ‘reach’ in itself,” the CEO Anthony Lawrence tells us. “There are a lot of great networks out there that do a great job in terms of reach but we feel the success will be in how well we can help marketers target the audience with relevant advertising.” The platform supports geo targeting, keyword targeting, and targeting by device.

Lawrence says Viacast is “in talks with several different agencies and publishers to roll out new campaigns in the weeks to come.” No specific names released yet.

Viacast Mobile is privately held but is seeking strategic partnerships with outside investors and VCs for a first round series funding starting in the first quarter of 2011.