Microsoft has agreed to acquire European cell phone ad company ScreenTonic to try to gain a foothold in that rapidly growing market.
Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, did not disclose the financial terms of the deal announced Thursday. Paris-based ScreenTonic is one of the first companies in Europe to develop a platform to manage and place ads on the mobile Internet.
ScreenTonic also serves as an advertising agency for companies looking to develop marketing campaigns on phones. Investors in the start-up include venture capital firm 3i and I-Source Gestion, according to ScreenTonic’s Web site.
ScreenTonic, based in Paris and founded in 2001, will become part of Microsoft’s Digital Advertising Solutions group, created in September 2006 to sell advertising across its devices such as the Xbox gaming system and its Web sites.
ScreenTonic’s platform, called Stamp, enables delivery of text or banner links on portals, ads in SMS (Short Message Service) messages, and ads in mobile Web pages that vary depending on where the reader is located.
It’s not clear at this stage how attractive any of these possibilities are for a cell phone user and consequently for advertisers, but presumably some sort of ads will be ubiquitous and Microsoft wants to get an early start in mobile phone advertising so they won’t be as late to the party as they were with Web advertising.
Update: The official Microsoft press release on the ScreenTonic acquisition has more verbiage and while we are on the subject of Microsoft acquisitions in the mobile space, Microsoft also announced the completion of the acquisition of Tellme Networks.