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Thursday, March 02, 2006
 Mobile Ads Coming Soon
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Message Text: Cellphone and media companies expect to see a sizable market for advertising on cellphones in coming years, with options including advertising-subsidized video services, top executives said on Wednesday.

Viacom Inc. , which runs MTV and Comedy Central, is working with major operators, and plans to play a major role in the first trials of mobile ads in the next year.

Sprint Nextel Corp. , the No. 3 U.S. mobile provider, is keen to offer subsidized wireless videos and local ads to cellphones.

"There's no question that advertisers are interested," said Viacom Chief Executive Tom Freston, speaking in New York at the
"What amount of advertising are they willing to accept in exchange for lower fees," he said.

As it aims to boost revenue with new features like video, Sprint Nextel is also looking at technology and business models around providing advertising to people using these services.

Sprint Nextel's chief technology officer Barry West pointed to the possibilities for sending information such as special offers at a local Italian restaurant to phones that can pinpoint the user's location.

Sprint could also offer its cheaper mobile video services if an ad is included, its Chief Financial Officer said.

"There are some people who would be willing to have their services subsidized," Sprint CFO Paul Saleh said. Sprint will work on cellphone advertising in the next couple of years.

Advertisers are also keen on the prospects for putting ads on cellphones and particularly via mobile video services.

"It's a major opportunity." Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group Plc. , the world's second largest advertising and marketing company, said at the summit.

Sorrell said the methods of measuring how many people see the advertising have yet to be determined, but that measurability was a key attraction.

"People will experiment," he said. "They won't make the decision to put millions of dollars in it (immediately). They'll make the decision on an exploratory basis."

Asked when it would become mainstream, he answered, "Quickly."
 
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