Microsoft combines search and display in mobile marketplaces

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Microsoft is beefing up its mobile advertising offering with a destination called "Microsoft Mobile Marketplaces." Rolled out a month ago, the site was announced on a Microsoft blog this week. It aims to combine search and display ads to increase their performance.

“The Mobile Marketplace acts as a transformational mobile ad product, converting a generally reactive medium like mobile display into a more intent-based mobile search product,” said Jamie Wells, director of global trade marketing at Microsoft Mobile Advertising, in a blog post.

Microsoft launched the marketplace to a select group of advertisers last month. The first part of the rollout is called Marketplaces for Ringtones, but the software giant plans to roll out more marketplaces, including Holiday Shopping, Mobile Games and Wallpapers, this holiday season.

When a consumer visits a Microsoft mobile media property, such as Mobile MSN, Hotmail, Messenger, CNBC or Fox Sports, he or she is served a display ad promoting a specific consumer product vertical, such as "last minute holiday deals" or "hot ringtones."

When the consumer then clicks on a mobile banner, he or she is redirected to a mobile landing page that contains a list of sponsored links from Bing for Mobile. These links are based on the theme or set of keywords associated with the specific marketplace vertical. 

Advertisers can buy ads in the marketplace by setting up a Bing for Mobile ad campaign and bidding on one keyword. Since its soft launch last month, Microsoft has measured an average click-through rate of 20%, more than five times as high as the average click-through for mobile search, according to the Microsoft blog.

This offering comes as Google is asserting itself in the mobile advertising space. On November 9, Google announced the purchase of mobile ad network AdMob for $750 million. While Google already offers mobile search ads, the acquisition was done to expand its expertise in mobile display and in-application ads.

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