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MSN Eyeing Mobile Ads Provider

MSN is looking to buy Third Screen Media, a provider of ads to Web sites appearing on wireless devices. The acquisition would give MSN the ability to serve ads to mobile phones, and give it access to Third Screen's publisher network, which includes the likes of USA Today and The Weather Channel. For once, this would position MSN ahead of Google and others in a promising new advertising channel. Wireless mobile devices represent a new and largely untapped area for advertising; text ads are common while newer formats like banners and video commercials are still being developed. The total audience consuming Web content on wireless devices is still small--M:Metrics, a mobile research firm, says only 10 percent use their cell phone to surf the Web. Last year, mobile spending was just $45 million, but is expected to hit $1.3 billion by '09, according to the tech consultancy Ovum.

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