If you think Android is a fragmented marketplace, take a look at mobile advertising: while there are clearly a few very big players like Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), there are dozens of independents, offering slightly different twists on the business model, that are continuing to see big growth, and no particular sign of disappearing soon. Case in point: the UK-based mobile ad firm Adfonic today announced that it has picked up an additional £4.7 million ($7.5 million) in funding, and will be opening an office in San Francisco.
Adfonic, which allows advertisers to “bid” on mobile advertising space — similar to Google’s AdSense bidding system — says it will use the investment to grow the company’s business in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. And it will also be spent on a hiring drive: the aim is to increase the company’s current payroll of 40 to 100 in the next year.
The round was led by existing investors, which include the telecoms entrepreneur Gordon Shields.
The funding brings the total known amount invested in Adfonic to over $8 million — that includes a Series A round of $600,000, plus a Series B of an undisclosed amount in 2010.
Adfonic says that it currently serves a network of 8,000 mobile web sites and apps, with ad requests at over 15 billion impressions per month from 100 million unique mobile users. Clients on the network include Samsung, Warner Bros. (NYSE: TWX), eBay (NSDQ: EBAY), Groupon and (even) Google.
The San Francisco office will be headed up by Wesley Nelson as head of sales for the West Coast, who will work alongside Samantha Hoffnagle as head of sales for the East Coast. John Londonder is the company’s newly-appointed publisher acquisition manager to help grow inventory. The group will report to James MacDonald, GM for the U.S.
In at least one respect, expansion in the U.S. was perhaps long overdue. According to Adfonic’s most-recent own data, it gets nearly half — 45 percent — of its traffic from North America already.
Although there has been some consolidation in the mobile advertising space — such as Greystripe getting bought by ValueClick (NSDQ: VCLK), or Augme buying Hipcricket — there are still a number of smaller players also building up their businesses as standalone entities.
That will likely continue as businesses rush to cash in on an industry that Gartner forecasts will be worth nearly $21 billion by 2015.