IAB Unveils Mobile Ad Think Tank

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In tandem with the rise of mobile advertising, the Interactive Advertising Bureau has 1aunched a Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, an industry-funded and staffed unit within the IAB. The center will focus on providing market and consumer research, mobile ad case studies, executive training and education, and developing best practices for mobile media and marketing.

Led by former Ericsson executive Anna Bager, the Mobile Center has received funding commitments from 18 IAB member companies; eight have already provided advanced support and will serve on its board including AT&T BabyCenter, Converged Services, Cars.com, Google, Jumptap, Microsoft, The New York Times, Univision Interactive Media, Weather Channel and Yahoo.

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Another eight are serving as research and development sponsors: 24/7 Real Media, CNN, Disney Interactive Media Group, Federated Media, The Huffington Post, IDG Communications, NBC Universal and Tremor Media. Up to three more board sponsorship slots are still open for the Mobile Center, according to the IAB, which declined to comment on how much sponsorships cost or how much in funding commitments the trade group had collected so far.

But the IAB said the mobile effort was the first time it had directed "enhanced resources" to a single program. "The spread of smartphones and tablets and broad adoption of mobile across user and age groups has made the time right for mbole advertising and it seems companies are picking up on this and mobile budgets are increasing," said Bager, previously head of business intelligence for the multimedia division of Ericsson.

Mobile ad dollars are still small but rapidly growing. Research firm eMarketer has projected that U.S. mobile ad spending this year will increase nearly 80% to $743 million in 2010. A separate study issued by Macquarie Equities Research Thursday predicted that global mobile ad spending would go from $2 billion in 2009 to $14 billion in 2015.

With the Mobile Marketing Association already overseeing things like education, research and standards-development for the industry, the IAB's new mobile unit may appear like the group is encroaching on the MMA's turf. But Bager said the two organizations' efforts were complementary. "We come from the ad industry side and the [MMA] comes more from the mobile side and so we can work together, and the more, the better" she said.

The IAB and MMA last month released mobile Web advertising measurement guidelines, providing a framework for tracking mobile ad impressions. "Digital marketers and online agencies in general know the IAB better than the MMA, so it makes sense for them to collaborate because the IAB has more of a brand name," said Phuc Truong, who leads mobile marketing efforts in the U.S. for Mobext, a unit of Havas Digital. "They can learn from each other and feed off each other."

The IAB's Mobile Center will be based within its New York headquarters and is expected to include a small staff to support Bager.

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