AdMob offers new interactivity for iPhone ads

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Here’s another reason to be excited about the iPhone — mobile advertising startup AdMob is offering iPhone-only ads with a bunch of new interactive features. Vice President of Marketing Jason Spero says the iPhone will showcase how powerful mobile ads can be, and how those ads can take advantage of a user’s “mobile context,” i.e. the fact that you’re probably looking at the ad while out-and-about, not just sitting at home in front of your computer.

At first glance, the iPhone ads look like just another piece of banner advertising. But they include icons that users can select to enable additional interaction. I normally hate any advertising that’s more complicated than a simple banner, but the AdMob features are genuinely useful. The icons are easy to understand, too, so users know exactly what they’re getting into.

The new iPhone advertising capabilities include opening the iTunes store, opening the iPhone App Store, streaming audio content, viewing and sharing video, initiating a voice call, launching maps of nearby stores or other relevant locations, visiting iPhone Web sites and custom-designed experiences. San Mateo, New York and London-based AdMob is also promoting its iPhone ad marketplace with the giveaway of $1 million in advertising credits to iPhone application developers.

Although AdMob already offers the ability to target ads to certain mobile devices, the iPhone is the first device for which that the company has offered device-specific ad units and features. Even prior to the release of these new features, AdMob served 51.8 million iPhone-only ads in June.

There are other ad startups with iPhone-specific capabilities, such as AppLoop and Medialets, which are focused on native iPhone applications. AdMob, on the other hand, offers its iPhone features on both native apps and mobile Web sites viewed through the iPhone’s Safari browser, and it has also lined up some big name advertisers and publishers, including Universal Pictures’ new Mummy movie and MovieTickets.com. Big players like Google and Yahoo will probably offer similar capabilities eventually, but they’re not doing it yet.

We’ve already been impressed by AdMob’s business. Earlier this month, VentureBeat Editor Matt Marshall used some back-of-the-envelope calculations to predict that “AdMob is about to mint money,” a claim that provoked some interesting discussion and argument from our readers.

I’ve embedded a video demonstrating the iPhone features below. AdMob will also be demonstrating at our MobileBeat 2008 conference today.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wN-_7QKWtRI&hl=en&fs=1%5D

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