When will online and mobile advertising tools converge?

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As many publishers know, one of the most confusing aspects of the ad technology industry is all of the bits and pieces. The terms “yield optimizer” and “supply-side platform” are common phrases to publishers trying to monetize their online display inventory ― but vendors offer varying and overlapping functions. (It can get pretty comical, as these videos point out.) 

So where do mobile advertising tools fit in? The burgeoning ad-tech landscape is part of an ongoing initiative to monetize display ad inventory with tools galore. Meanwhile, mobile advertising solutions continue to pop up with their own tools. However, mobile advertising and display advertising tools currently sit in different categories; mobile houses its own data management, ad networks, ad optimization, etc. 
 
Why is that? Publishers should be asking for more one-stop solutions to sell, manage and optimize inventory across various platforms. Instead, as content takes on many forms (video, social, mobile), a new provider is required to monetize each piece. Online and mobile advertising merge
 
At the OnMedia conference Tuesday in New York, several advertising technology executives alluded that integrating online display and mobile advertising will be the next step. Clearspring CEO Hooman Radfar noted on a panel that in the next year more display technologies will be applied to mobile. (Clearspring launched into the display audience targeting business last year.) 
 
Some bridges have already formed between online and mobile advertising. Ad serving technologies have made strides to integrate online display and mobile ad serving. PubMatic, a platform to help premium publishers monetize online inventory, last year teamed up with Smaato to provide mobile ad optimization. Smaato CEO Ragnar Cruse calls his platform the “PubMatic or AdMeld for mobile,” working with big publishers such as The Huffington Post to fill advertising from various sources to both mobile websites and apps. It's no wonder display-focused companies are interested in mobile: Smaato predicts that mobile advertising spending in the U.S. will reach $1.24 billion in 2011 and surpass $5 billion in 2015. 
 
Integrating mobile and online advertising is all part of the greater need to merge the fragmented ad technology industry. In a post on AdExchanger.com about predictions for 2011, Chris Fralic, partner at venture capital firm First Round Capital, wrote that more consolidation will take place this year:
Consolidation will continue as ad networks continue to look to incorporate data, targeting and non-display formats into their offerings. Related to that, the innovation and trends we've seen around targeting, data, and platforms will move into search, mobile, video and email. 
It's hard to find an advertising company that isn't thinking mobile.
 
Casale Media, an online ad network working with many premium publishers, is eyeing mobile, undoubtedly like many online advertising players. CEO Joe Casale told me they will eventually have a solution to optimize advertising for mobile, but more integration of online display and mobile integration is still about a year off. 
 
ignitAd, the most recent addition to yield optimization for online display advertising, made it's first public appearance at OnMedia. CEO Assaf Roth said it will take some time before everything will converge, i.e. display and mobile advertising tools will work more in unison. Nonetheless, “we definitely have it on our radar,” he said.

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