Norwegian-based mobile ad platform Opera Mediaworks (OMW) has acquired AdVine, a South African mobile ad network. This is OMW’s first acquisition in Africa. It will give the company and advertisers access to millions of African consumers. OMW's parent company, Opera Software reported that more than 50% of its revenues come from OMW. In its Q3 2014 financial report, the business unit recorded total revenues of USD 138.8 million, up 84% year-on-year.
Previously also a business partner of OMW, AdVine serves as an intermediary between publishers and media buying agencies to launch mobile ad campaigns across publisher network and managing ad sales.
The AdVine investment is the latest of a series for OMW in 2014. In January, OMW acquired Latin American company Hunt Mobile Ads, followed by German rich media startup ‘apprupt’ in April, and US-based mobile video platform AdColony in July. These acquisitions have increased OWM’s global footprint. We expect that the company will subsequently invest in Asia in view of the thriving mobile ad markets.
Though mobile advertising is nascent in Africa, it offers lots of potential. Africa is a mobile-first continent where most users connect to the internet through mobile. Mobile subscriptions were over 800 million in 2013 and it is projected to increase over the next five years, according to IHS. Currently, OMW’s presence in Africa accounts for only 4% of its worldwide coverage which translates to 4.5 billion out of 105 billion slots of mobile ads each month. However we expect this share to grow to 10% over the next 5 years given the rapid development of the African mobile advertising market. A particular surge in ad impressions will be generated by the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
Africa is no stranger to OMW. Opera Mini, a proxy-based browser for mobile phone owned by Opera Software has been widely used in many African countries where mobile data is not yet easily affordable and usage is relatively low. It helps users to compress data and browse the internet despite limited bandwidth. Integrating Opera Mini and AdVine would enable OMW to improve advertising monetization despite obstacles to connectivity.
However, competition for Africa’s mobile advertising market is heating up. Advertising giants Facebook and Google topped the African most-visited domains list in 2014. Facebook’s involvement in the internet.org project explains its objective to monetize advertising potential in Africa. The project strives to make affordable internet access available to developing countries. What’s more, Google’s Project Loon is in the development stages, aiming to beam internet access to remote areas. Eventually, whoever attracts users in the early stages of development is likely to gain market share as they shape the mobile user experience.