The Coming of Wireless Advertising Accelerates

Standards for advertising on cellular phones, palm pilots and other wireless devices should be in place by the end of the first quarter. There are currently no precedents for this untapped ad space, so Mediaplex, DoubleClick, Avenue A, and others are working together as part of the open-standards initiative to create advertising specifications.

“We're working together to define the ad space along with other members of the wireless committee,” said Kenneth Kucera, vice president of strategic-business development for Mediaplex, an advertising technology company in San Francisco. “This is the next natural extension of the Internet market.” The specifications will vary depending on which device is receiving the advertising message. The committee plans to use the self-describing XML-based vocabulary created by Mediaplex as the transmittal language for the ads.

There are many opportunities in the wireless space and a variety of firms have been drawn to this fact. “Look at coupons,” said Kucera. “The folks from Brightstreet had seen the preliminary site go up and asked to join. We had not thought to invite them. But, it's actually a perfect match for them.” For example, if a consumer is looking for a coupon that reduces the cost of hamburgers, they can be alerted to a restaurant that has such an offer when they hit that particular cellular zone.

Although Mediaplex formed the vendor-neutral adXML, it will hand over the reigns to a steering committee by month's end. “We gave it birth, but now we'll be just another member,” said Kucera. On Jan. 10, Mediaplex Inc. and OpenGrid Inc. announced they are among the first to combine forces to create advertising for wireless systems.

Under the Mediaplex and OpenGrid agreement, the two companies will work together to help deploy ads through the wireless environment. “OpenGrid will be dealing with the carriers. We'll be dealing with clients and the media buy infrastructure,” said Kucera. OpenGrid is a wireless Internet solutions provider based in Santa Clara, CA. Although Mediaplex has the early jump, Kucera said: “There's no way anyone can take this market captive. It's way too huge.”

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