Opera Introduces Ad Exchange Aimed Partly at Feature Phones

Most of the ad marketplaces and "exchanges" that have been created to date have been focused on smartphones. However Opera is announcing a new mobile ad exchange, based on its earlier AdMarvel acquisition, that is directed at least partly toward feature phones.

In January Opera bought AdMarvel for an estimated $8 million with a potential $15 million earnout. According to press materials:

The Open Mobile Ad Exchange makes the world's largest mobile audience, 66.5 million Opera Mini users, available to advertisers, publishers, and wireless operators. With this launch, Opera opens the world of feature phones, where Opera Mini is the dominant browser, to mobile advertising.

Called the Open Mobile Exchange, it will offer inventory on all Opera Mini browsers whether they're installed on feature phones or smartphones, such as Android and the iPhone.

When Opera acquired AdMarvel it wasn't entirely certain what it was going to do with the company. This marks a big shift for Opera, into mobile advertising in a serious way. The straddling of feature phones and smartphones offers something somewhat unique in a market that has a growing number of mediators, marketplaces and exchanges. 

Microsoft recently launched a new mobile ad exchange. Yesterday Velti bought exchange Mobclix. Google (through AdMob) has a mobile ad exchange. Smaato and Amobee are also broadly in this category too. So is Nexage.

We're in a period of consolidation and scaling. Winners will be the networks/exchanges with the greatest reach. However, companies such as Millennial and inMobi believe that the value in the ecosystem is created at the network level, with direct advertiser relationships.