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Carl Icahn Invests in Mobile Content Provider Motricity

Motricity, a mobile content and services company based in Durham, N.C.,  has announced a $50 million round of equity funding from serial investor Carl Icahn.

Being a company local to me, I’m glad to see them growing and getting some working capital. but I’m sure they’re well aware that Icahn is not always an investor that likes the status quo.

MerchantCircle Brings MySpace Platform to Local Businesses

My hat’s off to MerchantCircle. I’ve just read a Business Week article that explains how the company is serving local businesses with a network that borrows a few ideas from MySpace. It sounds like they’ve hit on a winner!

Using data obtained from public records and a proprietary Web crawler developed by cofounder Yamamoto, the eight-employee MerchantCircle builds the listings, then relies on merchants finding listings through word-of-mouth and search engines. MerchantCircle optimizes each entry in the directory, so that it gets good placement when it is picked up by major search engines such as Google. “We make it easy for people to link to your site, make it easy for merchants to create new content, and tag it in a way the Web loves. Google wants people to be able to find stuff that they’re interested in. For a small-business man to do that himself would be impossible, but we’re applying that [technology] across lots and lots of merchants’ pages,” says Yamamoto.

How (& Why) to Break into Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing is so popular that it’s gone mainstream—or at least gotten mainstream media coverage. Today’s Boston Globe features an article on mobile marketing (via MarketingVOX). I think it gets at the heart of the issue, accurately explaining why it’s such an attractive and controversial potential advertising platform, in these quotations:

“We’re calling the phone ‘the brand in your hand’ — you’re never more than a foot away from it, 24 hours a day,” said Fareena Sultan, associate professor of marketing at Northeastern University’s College of Business Administration. The challenge, Sultan said, will be to produce an advertisement for the phone “that excites the person holding it.”

Mobile Search Battle Heating Up

Business Week looks at the battle to dominate the mobile search space and its estimated $11.4 billion ad spend by 2011.

While Google has the lead, Yahoo is making a strong challenge and there are a many white-label providers out there.

Regardless of who is leading at the moment, the mobile search field is wide open. What’s more, though brand matters to mobile users, it seems that service matters even more. “To think that you have a straight line from Internet success over to mobile is missing what is happening in the marketplace,” says M:Metric senior analyst Mark Donovan. “This market is up for grabs.”

Newspapers Outperforming TV in Video Ads

It’s true: newspapers are outperforming TV in video ads. In 2006, newspapers’ websites sold $81 million in local online streaming video advertisements. Local TV broadcasters’ websites sold only $32 million. Even taken with the other $48 million spent on online video advertising, it’s not much compared to the advertising industry total of $280 billion. But look out: online video is poised to become a more and more significant portion of online ad spending.

This year, $371 million will be spent on local online video advertising—comprising about 5% of the total of $7.7 billion online ad spending according to Borrell Associates Inc’s new study, “The New Frontier: Local Online Video Advertising.” This is more than double last year’s online video spend total of $161 million.

Mobile Search Not That Hot?

A recent UK survey of mobile phone users suggests that there may be no where near the amount of people using their cell phones for search, as believed.

Just 20% of UK subscribers actually search for content on the mobile internet, despite an industry perception that 89% do, according to research released today, from the Mobile Entertainment Forum and Ovum

What’s more, they’re not searching for restaurants, or directions. Just 2% conduct a search on a daily basis and those searching less frequently, search for ringtones and music downloads.

And remember, this is a UK survey. The Brits are ahead of their US cousins, when it comes to mobile phone adoption and technology. The stats hardly send a warm and fuzzy message to those looking for a broader adoption of mobile content.

Yahoo Inks Mobile Advertising Deals in 18 Countries; Intel, Pepsi Sign-on

Ok, so unlike the Google/Vodafone announcement, news that Yahoo has signed some big name companies to deploy mobile ads to 18 countries, is significant.

Yahoo said it has signed up major advertisers including Hilton’s Embassy Suites, Infiniti, Intel Corp., Nissan, Pepsi & Co, Procter & Gamble Asia-Pacific and Singapore Airlines will be initial advertisers on Yahoo’s mobile advertising system.

While Google’s making deals to add maps to cell phones, Yahoo’s actually signing deals that will bring an immediate increase to the bottom line. Sure, you can argue that adding Google Maps to Vodafone, will bring greater exposure for Google and could lead to ads on those maps, but Yahoo’s deal will see immediate monetization of mobile content.