“Advertising dollars tend to flow where people spend the most time, and people are spending a lot of time on their mobile phones,” says Payne, an ex-Googler who is now CEO of mobile advertising startup MoPub. The San Francisco-based company, which runs a service for publishers to manage rich media ads on mobile devices, is one of several startups in the space to close a round in the past weeks. MoPub raised $6.5 million from Accel Partners and Harrison Metal Capital.
All told, venture capital firms have invested well over $100 million so far this year in rounds of $5 million or more for at least nine companies in the mobile ad space, according to peHUB’s analysis of data from Thomson Reuters (publisher of peHUB). Several more mobile ad companies have raised smaller early stage and seed rounds.
If Payne’s thesis that ad dollars follow eyeballs holds true, then a case could be made that the sector could use more funding. Research firm Gartner Inc. projects worldwide mobile advertising revenue will reach $3.3 billion this year, more than double the $1.6 billion spent on mobile ads in 2010. Gartner predicts worldwide revenue from mobile ads will grow to more than $20 billion by 2015.
Against that backdrop, I’ve compiled a slideshow of the 10 largest funding rounds for companies in the mobile ad space this year, based on data from Thomson Reuters. I’ll forewarn that it’s a squishy category, with some companies operating in the Internet advertising space expanding into mobile but not calling it their key focus area. That said, there seem to be enough to make for an interesting list.
Location: Encinitas, Calif.
Business: Runs a network for providing local promotions and news on mobile devices.
Latest round: Raised $3.5 million out of a planned $6 million round, according to an April securities filing
Funding to date: Investors include BlueRun Ventures and The Associated Press. Raised $9.5 million between 2008 and 2010, according to Thomson Reuters.