AdMob announced a pretty significant update today that could help Google in its battle to acquire the company. The $750 million acquisition deal, announced in November, has been held up as the FTC examines it for antitrust violations.
The update concerns AdMob's AdWhirl tool, which it bought eight months ago. AdWhirl lets developers of mobile apps incorporate and manage ads from multiple ad networks, in order to maximize revenue. Previously developers could only add one ad network of their choice aside from those supported by AdWhirl (the list consists of AdMob, JumpTap, MDotM, Millennial Media, and Quattro Wireless for iPhone apps and AdMob and Quattro Wireless for Android apps). As of today, users can add as many networks as they want.
More importantly, the service says it will support Apple's iAd platform, once it launches. That's an interesting development, given the competition between Google and Apple. Steve Jobs has been on a rampage against competitors lately, slamming Adobe and banning their platform from his devices, and knocking Google's Android OS.
"Steve Jobs could possibly make it hard for AdWhirl based on the latest events (Apple Vs Adobe/Flash)," Julien Blin, prinicple analyst at JBB research told me via email. "But AdMob seems to have done a nice job 'complying with confidential rules and restrictions Apple has provided'," he said, quoting AdMob's announcement.
Apple's iAd platform, announced earlier this month, will likely help Google convince the federal government that its acquisition of AdMob does not created a monopoly or hurt competition in the mobile ad sector. The updates to AdWhirl constitute a gesture of openness that could also help.
"The FTC and DoJ are looking into the Google/AdMob because of antitrust concerns," Blin said. "The fact that AdWhirl will support an unlimited number of ad networks, including iAd could actually help the Google/AdMob deal get through. In my opinion, AdMob/Google wants to show more openess. [...] The fact that AdWhirl will support iAd, which is set to become a major ad platform, is the perfect example of this."
AdMob says more than 1,700 apps actively use AdWhirl, and that ad requests have jumped from 40 million in December to 100 million today.