Opera Transforms Itself into an Advertising Company

Opera has had great success with its Opera Mini and Opera Mobile browsers. Indeed, Opera has the greatest market share of any single browser provider in mobile. But as the world migrates from feature phones and RIM devices to smartphones Opera risks being displaced by Safari, Chrome and maybe Explorer.

In a diversification move, two years ago Opera bought ad network/mediator AdMarvel (for $8 million in cash plus $15 million more in potential earn-out fees). Today the company announced that it was doubling down on mobile advertising, buying ad networks Mobile Theory and 4th Screen Advertising. AdMarvel addressed publishers while the Mobile Theory and 4th Screen acquisitions cater to advertisers and the demand side.

According to the press release: 

[The two acquisitions] significantly expand its offering to advertisers and mobile publishers that engage consumers via the mobile web and applications, across all mobile platforms. Opera offers complete advertising solutions for mass-market feature phone and smartphone platforms, including iOS, Android, Blackberry, Java and Symbian.

Additionally, these acquisitions will enable Opera to better monetize the traffic that flows through Opera Mini and Opera Mobile browsers. With the world’s most popular mobile browser, Opera serves more than 160 million monthly active users that generate more than 100 billion page views, and consume more than 16 Petabytes of mobile data services a month, as of December 2011.

Mobile Theory is a leading premium mobile advertising network focused on the U.S. mobile advertising market, based in San Francisco, with offices in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle. 4th Screen Advertising is a leading premium mobile advertising network focused on serving the European mobile advertising markets, based in London.

Opera CEO Lars Boilesen said that AdMarvel has enabled Opera to "generate well over $200 million in revenue for our publishers globally" since the acquisition. Boilesen added that with the two new acquisitions, "Opera is uniquely positioned to deliver end-to-end mobile advertising solutions to brands, agencies, publishers and mobile operators across the globe." 

It also represents a fundamental shift in Opera's center of gravity. And from an ad-network perspective it's part of a larger, long-term trend toward industry consolidation. Yet it seems that just as one mobile ad network is acquired two more spring up.