Mobile Advertising Heats Up With Funding, Deals

Mobile advertising currently generates just a fraction of the total revenue earned by online advertising. But it’s ramping up quickly and is poised to grow by more than 40 percent over the next several years, outpacing traditional online advertising. That’s helping fuel a spate of funding announcements and deals for mobile advertising companies as the competition in this space heats up.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau started reporting mobile advertising revenue for the first time, saying mobile ads brought in an estimated $550 to $650 million in the U.S. last year. Online advertising raked in a record $26 billion in 2010, eclipsing newspaper advertising revenue for the first time ever. Mobile advertising, while small, is expected to grow from $491 million in 2009 to $2.9 billion in 2014, according to BIA/Kelsey, a 43 percent compound annual growth rate. It’s that promise of rising growth that’s fueling optimism in the online advertising space.

Google (s goog) is a major player with its AdMob acquisition and said last year its mobile advertising business was on a $1 billion run rate. Apple (s aapl) has also used its Quattro Wireless pick-up to introduce iAD. But there are plenty of other players in this space who are making moves, picking up money and getting bought up.

Here’s a look at some of the recent activity:

Again, it’s still early and mobile advertising revenue is relatively small. But the promise is big for this industry, which can get in front of consumers and engage them in very personal and targeted ways. As rich media and location-based mobile ads grow, we’ll see more money head this way as advertisers look to use these channels for reaching consumers. Expect to see a lot more deals and funding announcements as mobile advertising ramps up.