Mobile commerce

Oracle Targets Mobile Ads

With its tentacles already wrapped around the majority of the telco back office, following a sustained and unprecedented acquisition spree, software giant Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) is now moving into yet another area that's taxing the management skills of communications service providers: targeted advertising on mobile devices. (See Oracle Tackles Mobile Advertising.)

Delivering ads over mobile connections has yet to take off as a market, but the potential is enormous. According to a recent forecast from Swedish consultancy Berg Insight AB , the global mobile marketing and advertising sector will grow from €1 billion (US$1.46 billion) in 2008 to €8.7 billion ($12.7 billion) in 2014.

That potential growth helps explain why Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) recently agreed to pay $750 million for AdMob Inc. , which runs a global advertising delivery network that serves ads to various smartphone platforms and runs a mobile analytic service that tracks the market. (See Google Buys AdMob for $750M.)

In addition, research conducted by Heavy Reading shows that the vast majority of operators regard advertising as a critical source of revenues during the next five years, and that they're keen on being able to deliver targeted messages to their subscribers. (See Operators, Advertisers Sync Up and Operators Mad for Ad Money.)

And as if to prove that carriers see mobile advertising as a potential source of additional revenues, Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) has just announced it's using a platform from specialist vendor Amobee Media Systems to deliver adverts to its mobile customers in 18 markets. Other major operators are also checking out advertising's potential. (See Telefónica Picks Amobee and TeliaSonera, Ericsson Prep Mobile Ads.)

To tap into the expected growth in demand from mobile operators worldwide, Oracle has developed its Marketing and Advertising Application, which is based on the vendor's service gatekeeper platform (formerly the BEA WebLogic Network Gatekeeper). (See OSS Giants Shift Up a Gear and Oracle Tackles Service Delivery.)

Ty Wang, senior director at Oracle Communications, says mobile operators already have some of the raw assets needed to capitalize on the expected advertising boom. "There's a lot of data within operators' systems that's yet to be unleashed. The operators need a new view of the network data," such as the location of a user that could trigger a particular ad delivery mechanism, "and IT data," such as user profiles, "so they can deliver relevant targeting information for advertisers. Carriers need to expose their network and subscriber data," and this new system makes use of that data for advertising management, Wang notes.

Currently, though, "carriers are not attractive partners for advertisers, who look for a lot of capabilities and data from their partners. Carriers don't have an advertising ecosystem -- they need to be better at managing advertising inventories," he adds.

The Oracle man says using a platform such as the Marketing and Advertising Application "might not be [suitable] for every carrier, but it's the right one for operators that want to leverage their existing assets, better promote their own services to their customer base, and also deliver content from third-party advertisers. We're positioning this product as something that can help operators differentiate."

He says the system is available now and is installed in three carrier labs. The Application includes workflow tools with portals and dashboards, plus integration interfaces into billing, revenue management, and relevant product platforms, such as WAP and SMS gateways. And, according to Oracle, it not only works in tandem with the vendor's own service delivery platform systems, but will also work with "exposure platforms" from other vendors, such as Aepona Ltd.

The vendor also has plans to adapt the targeted advertising system for fixed-line IPTV deployments.

Oracle has a decent foot in the door with many operators because of the large installed base for its telecom platforms and business databases, but it faces a number of rivals that are already active in the market. In addition to Amobee, Acision BV , Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Comverse Inc. (Nasdaq: CNSI), and Dutch specialist MADS all have platforms that operators can deploy. (See Comverse Goes to MWC and AlcaLu Serves Up Mobile Ads.)

Operators can also choose to use a vendor-hosted, managed platform, on offer from the likes of Alcatel-Lucent, Amobee, and advertising aggregation platforms from companies such as Transpera Inc. (see video below) and Smaato Inc. , which has just raised new funding. (See Smaato Raises $4.5M.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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