Offer-based Ads: Coming Soon to a Mobile App Near You

Offerpal Media this morning said it has acquired Tapjoy in a move that signals the advancement of offer-based ads into mobile. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Offerpal specializes in the kind of pitches that have quickly become very popular on social networking sites such as Facebook as a way to generate revenue and enable users to enhance the gaming experience. A casual gamer who accepts a trial offer from Netflix, for instance, could be rewarded with extra levels, while a fan of a mafia game could get a weapons upgrade by taking a survey.

Tapjoy delivers a related service for mobile developers looking to monetize their apps. The company offers free content or in-game upgrades to users who agree to download additional applications.

But offer-based online ads have been increasingly coming under fire, as evidenced by this scathing piece from Michael Arrington last fall over at TechCrunch. Facebook and Zynga are facing a class-action lawsuit from users who claim they were scammed into paying for things they didn’t want, or into giving up personal information. Facebook banned the Zynga title FishVille, leading the social gaming company to pull the plug on all cost-per-action offers until further notice. And Offerpal, which has raised about $20 million in funding since its founding three years ago, tapped a new CEO just a week after the company was accused at an industry event of running “scammy” ads.

Offer-based ads have yet to gain much momentum in wireless, which is still in the very earliest days of in-app advertising. But as Offerpal’s pick-up of Tapjoy indicates, the concept is positioned to quickly expand beyond online gaming and into mobile phones.

Related content from GigOM Pro (sub req’d):

The Attraction and Threat of Offer-Based Ads in Mobile

Image courtesy Flickr pvera.