Medialets Rides iAd Wave, Offers Rich Media Tools

Medialets has found that competing against iAd can be a good thing. The company told me its rich media mobile ads have increased 19 times since April, when Apple (s aapl) announced iAd and shined a light on the format. Now the New York start-up is looking to offer its tools to agencies and in-house creative teams to help keep the rich media ad wave going.

The company announced Medialets Create, a certification platform and set of tools that helps advertisers create ads that include video, animation and other engaging features. Medialets has lined up a list of agencies — including AKQA, AvatarLabs, The Hyperfactory, MRM Worldwide, Ogilvy North America, Razorfish, Southern Realm, Theorem, and The Visionaire Group — who will use Create. Medialets, which previous made its own rich media ads for iOS and Android devices, is now stepping back into a role of enabling agencies and advertisers.

Create will offer advertisers their own way to get into rich media ads and provides them with an iAd alternative. IAd is still growing, according to Apple, which announced today it has signed up more than half the top 25 advertisers in the U.S. Apple said it’s also expanding iAd to the UK and France next month, and to Germany in January 2011. Despite its popularity, iAd has also prompted grumbles from advertisers who aren’t always happy with running creative work through Cupertino. Others have complained about the price of iAds and the slow pace of the process, which has opened the door for Medialets and others. Medialets, for example, picked up the Chanel account after the company dropped iAd for its J12 watch ads.

Eric Litman, CEO of Medialets, said mobile advertising is poised to take off and redeem the boring reputation of display advertising online. He said rich media ads account for about 20 percent of ads on premium mobile publishers, about the same level as rich ads online, which have had a much greater head start. That’s why releasing Medialets Create is important, he said, because it helps further legitimize mobile advertising. “If you look at what is spent on TV, print and even on digital today, it’s enormous in comparison to what is spent on mobile,” he said. “But that’s where more and more consumers are spending their time consuming media, and it makes sense for the whole ad industry to ramp up and execute.”

This is going to be a fun market to watch. Apple will likely release its own iAd tool kit for advertisers at some point. But ultimately, the whole mobile ecosystem wins if mobile ads gain more respect and dollars.

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