Opera buys AdMarvel, are they building an ad network to leverage what they know about you?

admarvel_logo_scaledDuring the summer of 2009 I interviewed for a position on the Opera Mini team based out of Oslo, Norway. That’s how much I love Opera Mini, it’s easily the most important important mobile application ever created since it gives millions around the world access to the full internet on a wide range of devices. One of the questions I was asked during the interview is how would I make money from Opera Mini? The application is free after all, but the servers doing the compression and the bandwidth required to both download and transmit website is not. One of my suggestions was to sell Opera Mini transcoding servers to mobile operators, but logistically it would be a nightmare since updating the compression algorithms or rendering engine would require a highly coordinated software update. The second was that Opera start injecting their own ads into websites. Now I’m not saying I’m a prophet, if working for Nokia taught me anything about brilliant ideas, it’s that everyone has them, and they’re almost always thought up at the same time. The problem is the execution and bringing said idea to the attention of people who can help make it a reality.

Today Opera announced that they’ve acquired AdMarvel. I’ll embed the press release below, but think about the ramifications. There are over 41 million Opera Mini users as of November 2009, and Opera knows which websites each and every one of them has been to. Privacy advocates are already on the phone with the EFF by now regarding this purchase, but I see it as a fantastic strategic move that should keep Opera going a few more years. They deserve to get paid for Opera Mini, and something tells me we’re going to see them start making money quite soon.

Also note Apple’s recent purchase of Quattro Wireless. While Apple doesn’t know which websites you’ve been to, they do have your credit card on file. Imagine the types of ads they’re going to run. The advertising space is going to get mighty interesting during the next few years.

Opera acquires AdMarvel

Opera Software today announced that it has acquired AdMarvel, Inc. The acquisition will enable Opera to expand its portfolio of products and services to include highly scalable ad monetization services for Opera branded mobile products and services offered by mobile operators and content partners.

AdMarvel, based in San Mateo, California (USA), works with a broad set of constituents in the advertising ecosystem to improve the performance of mobile advertising. The company was founded in 2006 by a team of mobile veterans led by Mahi de Silva and has a broad customer base across the globe. AdMarvel strives to make mobile advertising an open ecosystem through better transparency of performance and simpler management of ad traffic to optimize revenue. AdMarvel’s suite of services is designed to put publishers, developers and mobile operators in control of performance and enables ad networks, agencies and brands to deliver better results.

“In our fast-growing industry, mobile advertising represents an interesting long-term revenue opportunity. Every month, nearly 50 million people access the Web using Opera on their mobile phones and together with AdMarvel, we think we can play an important role in the evolution of mobile advertising,” says Lars Boilesen, Chief Executive Officer, Opera Software.

“We are very excited about joining forces with Opera. What started as a commercial relationship has blossomed into a wonderful partnership to serve the global mobile marketplace. Combining our monetization and analytics platform with the Opera browser and widget platform will create a new intelligent platform, where local and global advertisers can interact with a highly instrumented mobile audience,” says Mahi de Silva, Chief Executive Officer, AdMarvel Inc.

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