Forbes explores mobile opportunities

Everyone knows that audiences across the world watched Michael Jackson's memorial service July 7. What not everyone knows is how many watched from mobile phones: nearly 1 million.

It turns out that more than 13 million Americans tuned into handsets in the first quarter of the year, a 52 percent spike from the year before, according to mobile video ad-network Transpera. As these numbers rise, hopes for more ad dollars grows in the hearts of TV networks hit by recent losses of $1.5 billion in ad revenue in the first quarter of 2009, a drop of nearly 11 percent from $12 billion at the same time last year, says the Television Bureau of Advertising.

TV networks and viewers are migrating to mobile devices. Late April, MSNBC rolled out a Rachel Maddow iPhone app, the third the network has released for the smartphone. The iPhone capability, along with formats for other phones including the Blackberry and Palm Pre, pulled in $750,000 for MSNBC in June, reports Laurie Burkitt of Commercials On The Go.

Although mobile efforts alone aren't making up for the ad drop from TV advertisers, they are bringing in some extra cash, says Jeff Maurone, MSNBC product manager. Ford and Microsoft, among other advertisers, are buying spots within mobile network content to reach out to younger audiences, says Frank Barbieri, Transpera chairman and CEO. The average cost for ads on mobile TV ranges from $5-$10 per thousand impressions for a banner ad and $30-$40 per thousand impressions for video.

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