RIM Takes First Stab at Mobile Advertising

Research In Motion (RIM) has taken the wraps off its mobile advertising solution called BlackBerry Advertising Service, with the goal of helping BlackBerry app developers better monetize their products. Is it enough?

In doing so, RIM becomes the second mobile technology player in less than a week to jump into the fray. Five days earlier, Ericsson unveiled its mobile ad solution dubbed AdMarket.

For developers, RIM’s new offering is an important one. At launch they get access to some of the leading mobile ad networks – namely Jumptap, Millennial Media, Mojiva, Amobee and Lat49, with more to follow. They will also start getting an industry standard 60% cut of the revenue from ads served in their apps.

Besides advertising, RIM is also offering developers a free mobile analytics service powered by Webtrends. A clever move. So not only is the company helping developers with monetization, it is also supplying the crucial measurement piece that is so necessary to attract advertising dollars. Advertisers and ad agencies want hard data about who they can reach via mobile apps, and this new service helps provide that.
Clearly, most app developers will welcome these new service offerings from the BlackBerry maker. And they should. They need to start seeing more revenue for their efforts. And it all sounds good.
But in the larger scheme of mobile advertising, one wonders how another platform solution in an already complex stew of mobile ad offerings will fare? Yes, there is room for a number of players, and RIM has a sizable audience, but from an advertiser’s perspective this in no way reduces the complexity and friction already in the system.
Strategically for RIM the new ad service keeps them in the game against rivals Apple (Quattro) and Google (AdMob), without having to shell out big money for an existing ad network – though that option might still be on a table somewhere. Recall that, according to published reports, RIM played footsie with Millennial Media earlier this year, but that deal hasn’t gone anywhere – so far. My concern is that RIM in seeking this more measured service approach runs the risk of not going all the way, and is missing an opportunity.