Mobile ad sector heats up as Opera buys AdMarvel

Norwegian Web browser company follows Google's, Apple's lead in taking aim at mobile advertising

Opera has acquired AdMarvel, which has developed a product suite that manages how ads are delivered to mobile phones, the Norwegian Web browser company said on Wednesday.

Opera is paying $8 million in cash for the privately held U.S. company and up to an additional $15 million if certain financial targets are met during the next 24 months, according to a filing with the Oslo Børs.

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Opera has already been using AdMarvel's product suite when testing mobile advertising on its Mini browser and was impressed with the results, according to Rolf Assev, chief strategy officer at Opera.

AdMarvel's product suite includes a number of management and analytics tools for mobile ad publishers. The Traffic Manager tool lets users control where and to what devices ads are sent, and the Traffic Analytics tool breaks down traffic by countries, devices and carriers, according to AdMarvel's web site.

AdMarvel will continue to be operated as a separate company, according to Assev. However, Opera will work to find ways to integrate AdMarvel's products with Opera Mini for operator offerings, he said.

The mobile ad sector has seen a lot of activities in recent months, with Google buying AdMob in November and Apple snatching up Quattro Wireless earlier this month.

It is a growth sector, according to Gartner. For example, 25 percent of application store revenue will come from advertising in 2013, compared to 5 percent last year, said Carolina Milanesi, research director at Gartner.

The biggest challenge will be to present ads in a way that doesn't irritate users, Assev said. It will also be important to take advantage of the user's location.

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