AdMob ups ante in mobile ad fight

admob.pngAdMob, a mobile ad provider, is announcing a string of partnerships that show it continues to grow even in the face of competition from Google, AOL and Yahoo.

We still don’t know how much money this company — or other mobile ad network companies — are making, but signs of a booming advertising market continue.

The San Mateo, Calif. company places advertising on web publisher’s sites on cell phones.

The company is announcing partnerships with major advertisers including Atlantic Records, Countrywide Home Loans (Click to Call), Electronic Arts (NCAA Football, Bejeweled), Echostar, JCPenney, Starbucks, Universal and a string of Microsoft properties, including MSN, Windows Mobile and xBox.

AdMob also serves ads for more than 2000 mobile web sites, including ESPN, CBS, Weather Underground, Maxim and Peperonity.

The market, for the biggest players, is looking good. Admob has served a worldwide total of one billion mobile ad impressions in June, for a total of over five billion since it launched eighteen months ago.

AOL Third Screen Media blogged that it had around 224 million impressions per month, but that was in early May.

Jupiter forecasts mobile advertising networks bringing in a total of $2.9 billion in 2011.

Julie Ask, a research director at Jupiter Research, says AdMob’s number is impressive, but not surprising. There are 230 million cell phone users in the US, and 35 million of them browse the Web, according to Ask.

She suggests the continued string of deals with large brands’ mobile sites are creating another wave of traffic.

Large companies like Yahoo, Google and AOL have an advantage because of their exiting large network of advertisers and publishers. In mobile ads, too, they’re able to sell targeted ads to specific web sites — sports, games, etc. In turn, they’re able to sell more lucrative advertising to these niche audiences. That puts the pressure on upstarts like AdMob, although AdMob has the benefit of backing from Sequoia and Accel (previous coverage), giving it some staying power.

Stephen Wellman at Information Week considers AdMob’s odds:

Advertisers have been eager to experiment with the third screen and AdMob successfully translated this desire into business success.

Despite this, I still have to question AdMob’s success. Is this a sign that AdMob has a killer business offering or that Google and Yahoo are too big and too slow to innovate?

I suspect it’s a combination of both. I give credit where credit is due. AdMob delivered. But, I suspect they know deep in the back of their minds that they should have lost already.