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Mobile advertising and marketing companies have turned out in droves this week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Their large presence is telling of just how much mobile content is ad-supported. eMarketer predicts that ad-supported content will account for almost a third of mobile revenues by 2015 to over $1 billion. It’s a hot topic in the telecoms world right now, buoyed by Facebook’s intention to feature mobile ads in the very near future.

There’s a tremendous buzz about innovative, mobile-specific advertising at the Barcelona show. The most prominent example of this trend is Google Mobile Ads, yet I’ve been more impressed by some of the less prominent companies’ offerings. As a coffee addict, I was drawn in by Starbucks’ rich media ad on the Adfonic platform. The ad lets you draw your own cup designs, which are then submitted to Starbucks. The coffee giant will pick out a winning design in a contest each month.

My inner teenager likewise loved Millennial Media’s ads for Porsche and Modern Warfare III. The Porsche ads focus on “everyday magic” moments – namely Porsche owners rhapsodizing about their cars and how great they are to use. Behind-the-scenes analytics make it possible to target consumers who have previously engaged with Porsche ads. It has also been great to see the male-skewed Modern Warfare III ads at Barcelona. Users can watch a video to rouse interest in the game, order a copy through their phone, or visit the game’s Facebook page through an expandable banner.

“Real-time” advertising is another area that is clearly blossoming in 2012. Mobile marketing firm Celltick showed off technology that can target consumers based on location information from SIM cards. Celltick is demoing how consumers can get six different daily deals on their mobiles depending on their location, giving advertisers a much higher click-through rate than location-neutral marketing.

Mobile advertising is one area of telecoms that’s clearly flourishing right now and clearly a space to keep an eye on.

Alex McCracken is Relationship Director at Silicon Valley Bank.

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