Battle of the Local-Mobile Ad Networks

MapLocation-based mobile ad network xAd put out a “momentum” press release this morning. The company said that it now has a $65 million “run rate.” Rival mobile network YP said last year that roughly $350 million of its revenues were attributable to mobile (not specific mobile buys generally).

However xAd distinguishes itself from YP and others as a “global platform.” The company is now also in the UK and India, soon expanding to Canada, Germany and China.

The major mobile ad networks and exchanges offer location targeting and geofencing to varying degrees, but they’re not focused on it. Beyond xAd and YP, in the category of “location specialists,” there are a number of others:

  • JiWire
  • ThinkNear (part of Telenav)
  • Chitika
  • Verve
  • PlaceIQ
  • 4Info
  • Foursquare (not a network per se but a meaningful company in the space)

Of course Google and Facebook are purveyors of location-based mobile ads — less so in Facebook’s case. However that will likely change as Facebook rolls out a full-blown mobile ad network. Pandora is also focused on location-targeting. And Twitter will get more involved over time with location-targeted mobile ads.

The way that location is evolving in mobile is more complex than most analysts and mobile ad forecasts portray. Straight up forecasts that argue locally targeted inventory will be X% of all mobile ads are simplistic. Over time location will be factored in to more mobile advertising but its uses are diversifying.

Location targeting on mobile is evolving in four primary and sometimes overlapping ways:

  • Location as part of a larger set of targeting parameters — one signal among many
  • Location as a proxy for audience, which may eventually get folded into the above
  • Location as location (geotargeting or geofencing)
  • Indoor location (which sometimes will be delivered through geofencing)

I wrote earlier today about Yahoo and its potential interest in Foursquare and other local properties. Another interesting possibility would be to buy an xAd or other local-mobile network. That would bring immediate revenue and put Yahoo on more level footing with major rivals in the mobile ad space.

Regardless, 2014 will see some of the companies on the list above be acquired as various players in the market try and consolidate their positions. Mobile ad revenue, which was around or just exceeded $7 billion in the US last year, is becoming critical to all the major internet companies, as are cross-platform ad and analytics capabilities. Independents will have a tough time staying independent and succeeding over the long term.

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2 Responses to “Battle of the Local-Mobile Ad Networks”

  1. Street Fight Daily: Walmart Tests In-Store Pickup, LivingSocial’s Future | Street Fight says at

    […] of the Local-Mobile Ad Networks (Screenwerk) Greg Sterling: 2014 will see some the mobile-local ad networks be acquired as various players in […]

  2. Consolidation Watch — Where to Look for Deals in Local Tech | Street Fight says at

    […] there’s both growth and redundancy in the sector. One startup, xAd, reported last week that it more than doubled revenue in 2013, ending the year at a $65 million run-rate. But, new […]

  3. Nate Nordstrom says at

    Microsoft’s investment/partnership with Foursquare is a timely twist in this space:

  4. Greg Sterling says at

    Yes and combined with a new CEO makes things very interesting. Redmond now becomes a potential buyer for Foursquare 

  5. Mobile Advertising | says at

    […] Battle of the Local-Mobile Ad Networks – Screenwerk mobile ad network xAd put out a “momentum” press release this morning. The company said that it now has a $65 million “run rate.” Rival mobile network YP said last year that roughly $350 million of its … […]

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