Opera Rides the Mobile Ad Bandwagon With AdMarvel Buy

Opera Software has joined the mobile advertising crowd, shelling out as much as $23 million to acquire AdMarvel in an effort to create a new way to drive revenues through its highly popular mobile browsers. The Norwegian developer will pay $8 million in cash and up to $15 million more if certain financial targets are met over the next two years. The move comes amid a flurry of M&A activity in the space in recent weeks.

A San Mateo, Calif.-based startup, AdMarvel helps publishers and carriers to source, manage and track advertising across ad networks. The company last year launched an iPhone advertising toolkit designed to enable app developers to integrate ads from ad networks into their applications. AdMarvel was founded in 2006 under the name Frengo and has reportedly raised $8 million in funding.

While much of the recent activity in the mobile ad space has focused on smartphones, Opera’s entry to the market could help boost ad revenues on feature phones. The company has seen tremendous success with Opera Mini, a mobile browser designed primarily to format web content for mass-market handsets. Opera two months ago claimed 41.7 million users downloaded consumers used Opera Mini in November, more than doubling the browser’s user base in a year. Ramping up advertising on those phones through Opera Mini would give the overall mobile ad market a major lift (GigaOM Pro, sub. required).

Image courtesy Flickr user andyket.