The concept of using advertising on cell phones to subsidize the cost of content seems to be picking up steam.
San Francisco-based Hands-On Mobile, formerly called Mforma and based in Bellevue, said that in addition to selling mobile games and content, it is starting an advertising division.
“Mobile is the next logical evolution in the way that companies will reach their target customers. Hands-on Mobile’s Media and Advertising Division promises brands instant access to hundreds of millions of mobile customers throughout the world,” said Jonathan Sacks, Hands-On Mobile’s president and CEO.
The division will be headed by John Rousseau, the former president of the International Automotive Group at PRIMEDIA.
Hands-On said the advertisements can come in many forms — text message alerts, promotions, video, photo sharing, instant messaging, polling and audio. It said it can also offer its mobile instant messaging product, to do alerts, promotions, and mobile coupons.
The first time I reported that mobile advertising was on the cusp of becoming a reality was at the annual cell phone convention CTIA in April.
At the event, Seattle-based Medio Systems said it acquired Seattle-based WebRelevance, a company specializing in matching advertisements with content on Web pages. Medio wanted WebRelevance’s expertise on Internet advertising to apply to mobile.
And, Bellevue-based Action Engine and Redmond-based MSNBC.com announced they created a free application that users download to their phones to watch TV and view news. The application is free because it is subsidized by advertising.
Don’t worry, though — the industry is still far away from requiring us to watch a commercial before we can make a phone call.