Can Bango unlock mobile ads for Facebook?

Potential investors in Facebook are fretting that the social network, due for a $100bn IPO later this year, has no evident mobile advertising strategy.

But just a year ago Facebook followers were bemoaning the absence of a credible advertising strategy of any description and look at it now, $4bn or so in ad revenue with every blue chip brand on earth desperate to reach its 800m users.

Facebook doesn’t actually need to be first and now it looks as though a (belated) mobile strategy is on the way doe to a new deal with start-up mobile payments outfit Bango.

UK-based Bango already has mobile payment deals in place with BlackBerry, Amazon, Electronic Arts and mobile games pioneer, Gameloft. Crucially it is able to bill mobile advertisers via the carrier, important for Facebook as many of its 425m mobile users don’t have a credit card.

Bango hasn’t revealed the terms of its deal with Facebook (although its shares have risen by a third since the news leaked out) but nor has it with Amazon for example. The reason is probably that nobody, including the mighty Amazon and Facebook, really knows how mobile commerce will develop in the future. All they know is that it’s going to be big.

Mobile ad revenue is forecast to rise from $1.45bn in the Us to $2.6bn in 2012 and its growth outside the US and Europe is likely to be more spectacular as smartphones in other regions are the only ‘smart’ devices many consumers own. It’s a more than reasonable bet that Facebook will be making the running in mobile in a year’s time, just as it is in other forms of online advertising.

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