Today marks the introduction of banner advertising on MSN Mobile in the United States. The advertisements conform to the Mobile Marketing Associations guidelines for display advertisements. Depending on the size of a handset's screen, the ads can include a clickable banner and up to two lines of text.
Microsoft spokespeople tell us that they have taken great care to ensure that presentation of advertising does not detract from the user experience. Their mission is, first and foremost, to deliver the information that an MSN browser or searcher seeks. The clickable display ads appear at the top of the screen with great pains taken not to crowd out information. Reuters reports that Paramount Pictures, Jaguar (automobiles - not classic videogames), and Bank of America are among the first to be placed on MSN Mobile. In our experience, Microsoft is taking full advantage of the facilities to promote its own services, such as Windows Live Messenger for Mobile and maps through Live Search.
In addition to such "house ads", there's evidence that Microsoft is stepping up efforts to integrate and leverage its diverse set of Web services. A search for movie listings through MSN mobile can culminate in the purchase of tickets through its existing relationship with MovieTickets.com. Mobile subscribers will also find more seamless links between content on the Microsoft Live Portal, so a request for "more info" from the movie site in mobile, will yield information from Live Search.
Microsoft already offers mobile display advertising in five countries thanks to its acquisition of ScreenTonic last May. They are Belgium, France, Japan, Spain and the U.K.