When Millenial Media’s (MM – $6.54) acquisition of privately-held JumpTap is completed, they will become the biggest company no one has ever heard of – just behind Google and just ahead of iTunes.  I’m talking about the business side of the business, which is all about serving ads to mobile devices.  Google remains the undisputed king, but the space Millenial Media occupies is huge, and about to get a lot bigger.

That’s because Millenial Media has been building an ad platform aimed at the world of mobile apps, a patchwork community consisting of literally hundreds of thousands of individual app developers. What makes Millenial so important is that they already have signed deals to serve ads to more than 45,000 of these apps. With the addition of JumpTap, they’ll add a whole new layer of cross-screen technology that will pull  tablets, smartphones, laptops and PCs into the same ad buying matrix.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. 

Companies like Campaign Grid have great tools for cookie-targeting voters online (“cookies” are footprints we leave when we use browsers to visit sites), but despite their penetration through Facebook, LinkedIn and AT&T’s Mobile Network, for example, a huge majority of mobile device users (and that’s most people) are using apps on those devices, not browsers.  Cookie-tracking is great for targeting the web browsers.  For app users?  Not so much.

That explains the mad scramble among aggregators and cookie-trackers to constantly broaden the reach of their targeting.  Very smart move, but no one online ever arrives, the most you can say is that they’re headed in the right direction.  Take a look at a couple of the factoids that Millenial Media notes, in passing: 70% of the most active iPhone states lean Democratic, while 70% of the most active Android states lean Republican.  That doesn’t have to mean anything, other than the fact that we need to know it, just like we need to know that Democrats are 3X more likely to get their political news fix on mobile than Republicans, plus a thousand other bits of data that affect how political dollars get spent, and why.  In other words, it’s a constantly changing marketplace populated by quite a few single-minded people who don’t understand why any money is still being spent on mail or TV.  It’s easy to get sucked in.

None of us will be satisfied until we can target individual consumers across all platforms in whatever media format we want, but that’s at least another 15 minutes into the future.

P.S. If you really want to get a better handle on the online tools available to campaigns, you might want to join me in San Francisco October 28-29 for Campaign Tech West. Visit Campaign Tech West’s registration page and enter our code TWJA when you register to get our discount. 

Photo – “Siq” by Argenberg (CC BY 2.0)