Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Kara Visits AdMob (And Talks About How the iPhone Turbocharged the Mobile Advertising Business)

While there are very few bright spots to look at in the start-up space in Silicon Valley these days, especially those relying on online advertising, the San Mateo, Calif.-based AdMob is at least slightly shiny.

The mobile advertising marketplace, backed by Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners, just got a big slug of funding–almost $16 million–to keep pushing to get ads on mobile phones, which has gotten a huge boost from the popularity of the iPhone.

The number of ads AdMob is serving on the iPhone jumped to more than 100 million in September, compared to 35 million the month before, for example.

The massive data usage by users of the popular mobile device by Apple (AAPL) has clearly turbocharged AdMob’s prospects, which were already on the rise. Compared to a year ago, the company said, the number of ads it served more than tripled the number of ads served on a monthly basis to 4.5 billion.

Obviously, the better quality and more actionable nature of ads on improved screens is the reason for the shift, which should accelerate as more smartphones like Google’s G1 and newest Blackberry Storm from RIM (RIMM) become more popular too.

Most importantly, even now, AdMob is cash flow-positive, which is not a bad thing to be in the current econalypse. It also has a cushion of cash–AdMob had previously garnered $15 million in funding from Sequoia and Accel.

It’s not all sunshine and daisies, of course, since the ad market in general is headed for a deep slump, and new markets are not going to grow as quickly, as marketers pull back from spending.

But, when the economy turns, the mobile advertising market is clearly going to be a fast-growing arena, with big players like Google (GOOG), Yahoo (YHOO), Nokia (NOK) and Microsoft (MSFT) as AdMob competitors (or potential acquirers, especially Google).

With the money it just raised, AdMob said it would be getting ready for that race, and also use it to expand internationally.

Here’s my video interview with Omar Hamoui, Founder and CEO of AdMob, on all that and more, as well as a tour of its offices:


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— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”