JumpTap Raises Another $26 Million for Mobile Search and Advertising

Investors still see the mobile search and advertising market as one of the hottest tickets in the digital economy. Since its founding in 2004, mobile advertising startup JumpTap, neighbors of Xconomy just down First Street in Cambridge MA, has raised about $47 million from the likes of General Catalyst Partners, Summerhill Venture Partners, Redpoint Ventures, Valhalla Partners, and WPP. Up until yesterday, that is. Today the company announced that it has raised another $26 million, in a Series D round involving all of the company’s existing investors as well as new lead investor AllianceBernstein L.P. (NYSE: AB) of New York.

JumpTap isn’t a household name, but it provides the technology behind the mobile Web search applications on Java, BREW, and WAP phones from a host of cellular operators, including AT&T, Alltel, Boost Mobile, and U.S. Cellular in the United States; Bell Canada, Rogers Wireless, and Fido in Canada; Telefonica in Spain; TeliaSonera in the Nordic and Baltic region; and Virgin Mobile.

Like Google, JumpTap places clickable ads alongside search results (it gets these ads directly from agencies and brands and from mobile advertising networks such as Third Screen Media—another Boston-area mobile company, acquired by AOL in 2007). The whole idea behind JumpTap’s service is to keep mobile users from going to Google and other traditional Internet search providers, and thereby reserve a bigger slice of search-related advertising revenue for the operators, for content-publishing partners such as Fox Mobile Entertainment and NBC Universal, and for itself.

Mobile carriers are definitely in the market for help selling search-related advertising: as we reported on Friday, Verizon is in talks with Seattle-based Medio, which raised $30 million in venture funding in 2006, about setting up a new all-in-one search service for its subscribers. But there’s disagreement over the actual size of the mobile advertising pie. Newton, MA-based market intelligence firm Strategy Analytics says global spending on ads for mobile platforms will hit about $1 billion this year and increase to $2.4 billion in 2009. Market research firm eMarketer, which counts text-message ads in its totals and makes more optimistic assumptions about economic growth in Brazil, China, India, and Russia, says spending will top $4.6 billion this year and $7.4 billion next year.

Regardless, it’s a growing market, and JumpTap says that it needed more cash to continue expansion of its global ad sales division—which has already grown sixfold this year, with the opening of offices in New York, Madrid, and Stockholm—and to further develop its search and behavioral targeting technology. Mark Mackenzie, vice president and head of digital media venture investing at AllianceBernstein, said in a statement that JumpTap has positioned itself as “the hub of the mobile advertising ecosystem” and that the company’s existing relationships with carriers, advertisers, and publishers put it in a good position to win more business and “define the way mobile advertising should be delivered.”

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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