Category Archives: Advertising/Marketing

Advertising and marketing for mobile devices

Networks/Broadcasters Look at Mobile Television

At the Future of Television in Hollywood a few days ago, a high-level panel took a look at the opportunities and challenges facing the television industry. Moderated by Bill Sanders, president, Pervasive Media, panelists included Tim Connolly, vp, mobile distribution, Disney/ABC/ESPN Media Networks; Kraig Baker, partner, David Wright Tremaine LLP; Jim Eadie, vp,

Bill Sanders moderates mobile TV panel

Bill Sanders moderates mobile TV panel

digital distribution, MTV Networks; John Lawson, evp, ION Media Networks;Steve Bradbury, vp, business affairs, GoTV Networks; and Jonathan Barzilay, svp, programming and advertising, MediaFLO USA.

Sanders started off by polling the audience on how many watched video on their mobile phone–streaming or downloading–or a weekly basis. As is typical for these casual polls, the answer was…almost no one. But Sanders wasn’t discouraged. “We need to move beyond it being a ‘gee whiz’ thing to where it’s a business,” he said. He asked every panelist to describe some development they’ve seen in the last year that has changed the game…or will change the game in the next 6 to 12 months.

Steve Bradbury, GoTV: I think when you go beyond the iPhone and start talking about the Android that’s come out of the box strong and will have a proliferation, that’s interesting. LG will do a store, Blackberry and Palm will have a store. The whole idea of carriers no longer being that central focus [is a game changer]. Handset mfrs trying to take back control of content is a coming trend.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Advertising/Marketing, Content, Monetizing Mobile

Fast & Furious: The 3D iPhone App

You’ve seen the bus ads…now check out the free iPhone app for Fast & Furious, which opens April 3. Mobilized TV had a chance to speak with Tyler Murray, director of emerging media at The Visionaire Group which created the mobile strategy for4 the movie.

Tell me about The Visionaire Group – what is it?

The Visionaire Group is a creative solutions agency for digital projects. The bulk of the work is done direct-to-client and mainly directly to the motion picture studios. One division does websites, another does display ads, and the third is emerging media group, which includes Facebook apps, widgets,and mobile capabilities.

For Fast & Furious, we worked directly with Universal. Our web group created the official website and we did a really cool desktop widget the user could download. It looks like a GPS, with lots of interactivity.

What about the mobile application?

We did the iPhone web destination. The reason Universal wanted to do something for mobile is that everything we did on the web is supported by Flash, which is supported on most mobile phones. So they wanted to do something specific to the iPhone [which doesn’t support Flash]. Another company had done some basic mobile web destinations for them. They came to us to take advantage of the iPhone. Our goal was to create something that had never been done before as a web-destination and use the features specific to the iPhone.Hollywood is about what’s cool. That’s what drives the marketing. We were trying to create a really cool experience.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Advertising/Marketing, Content, Devices

Mozes Kicks Up Brand Awareness at SXSW

If you’re creating mobile content, you’re marketing it. At SXSW, image001 Mozes‘ pics-to-screen technology took center stage at event producer/promoter C3 Presents’ 10th Annual Late Night bash, sponsored by Playboy. Pics-to-screen technology enables guests to send mobile photos to the venue’s display screen. MobilizedTV had the chance to speak to Greg Estes, vp of marketing at Mozes who talked about the ABCs of mobile marketing in confusing times.

Mobile marketing seems to have as many meanings as the people using the term. What’s the confusion here?

greg_estesThat’s true. If you type “mobile marketing” into Google, what will come up is everything from an ad agency that doesn’t have any technology all the way to Verizon and everyone in between. It’s helpful to draw ‘coarse grain segmentation’ of the marketplace. One is mobile ad networks. That’s basically doing advertising; people will sell inventory and space to take it into mobile. A second is building mobile websites, which helps people to take online properties and bring them into the mobile world. The third is around online direct marketing, or the mobile equivalent of direct marketing. That’s the category that Mozes is in. Some people call it CRM, or customer relationship management, but that means a lot of different things so I try to stay away from that term. It is about a customer community and having an engagement with them, and we do that for sure. There’s also a fourth category, which is mobile commerce or m-commerce. That’s taking your electronic storefront and bringing it into the mobile realm.

Can you describe what Mozes does?

We’re about being a platform for marketers to be able to send their message out to a community. We would further segment that in three ways. Usually most of our customers will do one of these three things: They do marketing when they don’t have a mobile list. The whole thing about mobile is it’s all about giving permission. Some people will run a mobile campaign or promotion or contest, to get people to interact with them, but not to build a list and build on-going engagement.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Advertising/Marketing, Content, Events

Showtime’s Emmy Campaign Goes Mobile

Beginning this April, voting members of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS) will enjoy the exclusive ability to view full seasons of Showtime’s original series on their iPhones and iPodTouch devices. This is an industry first; the application developed and implemented by Transpera, a mobile video delivery and advertising network that has worked with Showtime on other projects. The password-protected application will allow voters to stream fullshowtime_4cl episodes directly to their handheld devices.Showtime also launched its password-protected website, developed with online video platform Brightcove, allowing voters to mark their ballots online.

Original Showtime series includes United States of Tara, Weeds, Dexter, The Tudors, Californication, Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union, Brotherhood, This American Life, Penn & Teller: BULLSHIT! and The L Word.

“This year, by providing viewing access via iPhones and iPodTouch devices, Showtime continues to offer TV Academy members even more convenient opportunities to enjoy and consider SHOWTIME original programming,” said Richard Licata, Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications for SHOWTIME

Leave a comment

Filed under Advertising/Marketing, Content

Playboy Partners with MySpace for “Interns”

MobilizedTV broke news about Playboy’s original mobisode series “interns.” (Watch a trailer of ‘interns’ here.) Now, after a short delay, Playboy has announced that it’s partnered with MySpace for exclusive on-line viewing. For mobile viewers, “interns” will be available via Playboy’s WAP and iPhone sites, and distributed via its recently launched mobile “Playboy Audience Network” (mPAN), which includes Quattro Wireless, mywaves and Zannel. A Playboy spokesperson also said that “numerous wireless-network carriers will offer the series throughout North America” and that, in 2009, the mobisodes will be available in Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America.

The series was shown to groups of students at University of Illinois, University of Southern California, and New York University for feedback.

“Interns” is targeted at an as-of-yet untapped demographic: young, and fifty-fifty male/female. But Playboy isn’t leaving out its current readership. In the December issue of Playboy magazine–which will announce ‘interns”–readers are encouraged to take photos of the page’s “interns” logo with their phones. They then are instructed to send the shot to a shortcode in order to receive the behind-the-scenes series on their mobile phones. “Interns” has already successfully attracted an advertiser via product integration; interns distributed samples of göt2b’s magnetic men’s styling gel to pedestrians as one of their assignments.

Playboy Mobile includes elements of its iconic properties including Playboy Playmates, Cyber Girls, “Rock The Rabbit” musical artists, and Playboy-licensed products.


Filed under Advertising/Marketing, Content

Digital Hollywood: Mobile Commerce & Content

Santa Monica, CA—Last night I attended an opening event at Digital Hollywood, namely the party celebrating nominees for the upcoming Mobile Excellence Awards. At the Loew’s Hotel on the beach, guests were treated to a spectacular sunset, a view of the neon-lit Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica pier and, of course, drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Enthusiasm is high for the actual Mobile Excellence Awards, coming up on December 8th.

Today, I attended a panel on Mobile Commerce & Content, moderated by Steve Bradbury, GoTV vp of content strategy and business affairs and featuring panelists Cheng Wu, Azuki co-founder/chair; Brian K. Johnson, senior vp, Americas and Asia Pacific for mBlox; Larry Berkin, vp of ecosystem and corporate business development for ACCESS Systems Americas; Virgin Mobile USA director of brand development & partnerships Ron Faris and AirPlay Network chair/CEO Morgan Guenther.

GoTVs Steve Bradbury

GoTVs Steve Bradbury

At Loew's Hotel

At Loew's Hotel

Sorry to say I missed the first part of the panel but came in at a perfect moment: when the discussion turned to advertising. Moderator Bradbury asked panelists what advertising model will work in the next 6 to 18 months. “Now it’s the original model of TV: we’ll give you content to get you from one set of ads to the next,” he said.

Guenther agreed with the “TV model” assessment and pointed out that his company’s model was focused on the live event. “When there’s a pause in the action, you look at the mobile phone and match it up with what’s happening in movie theatre or TV screen,” he said. “It’s all abut pacing and what the customer is anticipating.”

Virgin Mobile USA’s Faris admitted that his company doesn’t have the scale, but instead has a niche focused on youth. “Reach and frequency are tenets of advertising, but to bring relevance we’ve had to bring depth of experience,” he said. “We’ve looked at different ways of advertising. When we launched Sugar Mama, a model where you watch content in exchange for free minutes, we didn’t thave the scale to be able to compete. We were up against Google, AOL and so on. We tried to bring in WAP banners and text blasts to bring up the numbers. They were great for reach, but for depth of engagement, which is what we’re using, we were reincarnating things that annoyed us on the web. The WAP banner is nothing more than a banner ad. Text blasts are nothing more than spam. Geo-targeting is great but why do I care? If I get a text blast for Nyquil and don’t have a cold, why should I care? From our perspective, you have to understand what’s relevant and create a deep engagement. I don’t want to keep going in this direction – we have to move into a sponsorship model.”

Berkin pointed out that everyone is in the early stages of mobile advertising. “I come from the download pay- for-application model. It’s a scale business.” He also revealed that ACCESS Systems Americas has created a widget platform that’s ad supported that will roll out on smart phones across the world.

Johnson noted that the text message ad-supported model has taken off. “We’re watching that carefully,” he said. “We see a big increase in free-mium, where you get something for free but maybe you’ll pay something more if you like it. Micro-payments are our biggest growing segment, for example to pay 99 cents to send someone virtual flowers. A mixture of micro payment and ads will pay for content.”

Azuki’s Cheng said that “the mobile ad ecosystem is completely fragmented and totally isolated from advertising.” “Mobile is different from desktop,” he said. “You can’t put 30-second ad for 30-seconds of content. Advertisers have an inventory of 30-second spots, so their resources aren’t fitting the mobile ecosystem.”

One panelist noted that “before we see a truly ad-funded content model, I’d like to see a flourishing one online. “We’re closer to having that scale in the online context, for music in particular,” he said. “There have been attempts for fully ad-funded models but the numbers don’t work. Content costs are steep, and we’re a ways off until we see truly ad-funded mobile content.”

The last word came from Bradbury who spoke about metrics. “Metrics in the online world stink. The numbers are inconcistent. Metrics have to be much more standardized and effective. The same thing in the mobile space, so you can go to a media buyer used to seeing things in a certain way and give them numbers they understand in order to justify putting money into a mobile buy. Then you’ve got a viable campaign. But, for now, metrics are still a big issue.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Advertising/Marketing, Content, Monetizing Mobile

Fox Reality Channel Launches On iPhone

Reality TV fans just got news that may have them rushing out to buy an iPhone. Fox Reality Channel, the all-reality, all-the-time cable/satellite network within the News Corp. with 50 million subs and climbing” just launched a WAP site for the first Apple iPhone mobile video service to feature reality-only content. “It was important for us to have video on the iPhone, which makes it easy to build community,” says Fox Reality Channel vp, business & operations, Ed Skolarus.

Fox Reality Channel is all about the video: Skolarus reports the channel does “over 170 hours of VOD on a lot of different platforms” including its exclusive partnership with Hulu and, for mobile users, a MediaFLO channel. “The iPhone is great for video,” he adds. “You can watch it and share it easily. Being in the video business, we’re about video advertising.”

That’s where Transpera, a platform for monetizing web videos on the mobile platform, comes in. “We power Fox Reality Mobile Video soup-to-nuts,” says Transpera founder/CEO Frank Barbieri. “They give us the videos and then we format them and deliver them to the iPhone along with targeted display and in-screen rich media ads like pre-rolls and overlays.” Current Transpera customers include MTV Networks, Discovery Networks, the Travel Channel, CBS News, Associated Press, and Accuweather.

Much of the content on the mobile Fox Reality Channel will be original, says Skolarus, who notes that they produce five original series a year as well as acquire content from Fox, CBS and NBC. Reality fans will get real-time updated information and original “bonus” content for original series “Battle of the Bods,” “2008 Fox Reality Channel Really Awards,” “Solitary,” “The Academy,” “Gimme My Reality Show!,” “Reality Binge,” and “Night Club Confessions.” A Send-to-Friend feature allows users to share their favorite video content mobile-to-mobile.

“Within the application, there are nine different categories, with 10 to 15 videos in each category, so it’s quite a lot of video,” says Skolarus. “My boss David Lyle, former president of Fremantle, understands that from the initial kick-off meeting you have to have the other platforms. involved. It’s not just repurposing what you have. It’s about having content shot for a lot of digital avenues.” Since its launch three years ago, Fox Reality Channel now has 2,500 digital episodes in the can.

For its original series, Fox Reality Channel has another crew working side-by-side the main crew, shooting content specifically for broadband, mobile and Hulu among other platforms. “It’s a big commitment,” he notes. “We’re lucky enough that reality is a good lean-forward experience with high engagement and it also skews well for iPhone.”

At time of launch, Skolarus and Barbieri declined to talk about specific advertisers, noting that many still play a wait-and-see game when it comes to new media. But Barbieri points out that mobile “gets higher engagement across the board.” “The mobile phone is such a personal device and commands so much attention of high-consuming audiences,” he says. “We see great recall numbers, great brand attribution numbers, much higher than on the web.”


Filed under Advertising/Marketing, Content, Devices

The Future of Mobile Browsing

From the Mobile Content & Marketing Expo

San Jose, CA–Skyfire CEO/co-founder Nitin Bhandari gave the conference’s last keynote address, on the future of mobile browsing. From his position at the head of Skyfire, a free, downloadable mobile web browser designed to make the mobile Internet experience identical to that on the PC, Bhandari identified what he called “mobile web megatrends.”

Nitin Bhandari

Nitin Bhandari

Is good mobile web browsing an oxymoron (with the exception of iPhone)? That’s the issue that got Bhandari motivated to create Skyfire. If you look at what has happened in the industry in the last few years, things have changed, he said. Three years ago, 45 seconds into a page load, your browser would crash. Two years ago, Nokia brought the webkit-based Minimap to market, highlighting the potential of full web on mobile. It was a phenomenon and a great credit to Nokia,” he said. One year ago, iPhone delivered on the promise of the mobile browser. Eighty percent of iPhone owners browse the web on a regular basis, he reported, and that’s an amazing statistic. “For the first time, the web browser is front and center,” he said.

Now, there’s a great deal of innovation in mobile browsers and the ease of mobile browsing has become a decision-making factor for consumers shopping for a mobile phone. Going back to the evolution, Bhandari pointed to WAP sites, with extremely limited experiences, no CSS or Javascript support, and proprietary markup languages. “Pages link to other pages on the Internet, and you didn’t get that here,” he said.

The mobile web was more, with HTML, and the user could accomplish transactions, such as getting scores on the ESPN site. The full web provides PC websites with HTML and Javascript, but no plug-in support. The concept of the PC web gives full PC website support with full plug-in support, including Flash, Quicktime, Real, WMF and Silverlight. “That’s the cusp we’re on now, moving to the PC web,” said Bhandari. He showed a chart of what products look like with PC web browsing.

Chart of content on devices

Chart of content on devices

“Better browsing is a disruptive force,” he said. “If you look at the entire lifecycle of creating, distributing, measuring and profiting. It has a profound impact on all of those” First, creating an app can be done two ways: looking for reach to many devices with limited engagement, or lots of engagement but to a limited range of devices. “This is no secret that the mobile world is highly fragmented,” he said. “Very quickly, you’re talking about millions of dollars.” The second way is to write a web app. “Flash is coming to all these mobile devices,” he said. “We have our way to bring it, and Adobe is working on their way. Then what you’ve created is leveraged across the PC and the mobile device. We believe everything is going to writing for the web. Write it once and run it everywhere.”

Discovery is better on the web, which levels the playing field, said Bhandari. The traditional model would focus on a biz dev team and staying on the deck, whereas open web search provides an effective marketing tool and advertising to acquire users is efficient. “It’s not mobile web, it’s mobile access to the web and there’s only one web,” he continued. “Yes, the screen is small and you might have to do something to optimize for the screen, but it’s still just one web.”

Do users prefer the mobile web or the full PC web? The jury is out, said Bhandari, although he admitted that he’s prejudiced. “Skyfire data says the full web,” he noted. “They can zoom, scroll and interact with the content. How many people will justify a mobile web budget? Very few people, so the concept of one web is great from the point of view of budget. Mobile web won’t just go away. The 90/10 rule applies: the massive amount of engagement will come from the top 10 percent of the devices, which are definitely becoming very capable.”

Widgets are another disruption. They moved to the web, but people began to question that. “If you add one more layer of fragmentation, it’s too much,” he said, “People are saying, why build a custom widget If I super-impose something else and it only reaches 4 percent of the market, why do it? Why not just build widgets as you do on the PC, with iGoogle, Netvibes or Facebook, which are all based on web standards?” Widget + Web = the best of push-pull experience, added Bhandari.

Bhandari stated that the definitions of content licensing will change. Once you’ve created a killer application, you need analytics, he added, and analytics are going to change. “Server-side analytics was a stop-gap, but now we support Javascript and AJAX,” he said. “We still need to know the device and carrier mapping, and we need to track new things like zooming and hotspots.”

Finally, advertising will change, into the model Bhandari called “OneAd.” “It will all start to converge, there’s no reason in the future for them to be silo-ed,” he said. “Mobile inventory isn’t unique because of LBS (location-based services). No, it also happens on the PC. That’s a myth that location makes mobile advertising different. There’s a myth that there are different ad units that work on a mobile screen. True, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There will be a convergence in terms of creativity and technology. Is mobile inventory unique because of downloads? Perhaps, because of different download files, but maybe not, because download files are different between Mac and PC, and no reason why it couldn’t be extended to mobile.”

He stressed that he doesn’t mean that the same ad will work on mobile and the PC, and talked about some of the things that don’t make sense on both platforms. “Rich advertising – if all units are treated as one, they can have interactive banners, pre-rolls, post-rolls,” he said. “It’s in everybody’s best interest to converge these. If people are going to access web content through the phone, we need a new “zoom unit,” vector graphics or what have you, so the ad is legible is you zoom in or out. But there’s no reason why we as an industry can merge into one ad inventory system.”

The formula for profit: profit is in direct proportional to clicking intensity. Click intensity is related to page load speed and directly proportional to content support, including plug-ins. The user experience is nebulous but very important. “There’s a reason why people would rather use iPhone than…fill in the blank,” he said.

“Better mobile browsers are here and we can all profit from it,” he said. “The key is too much fragmentation makes it too expensive to do anything and no one makes any money. The more we bridge the gap between the PC and mobile world, the more we have the chance to make money.”


Filed under Advertising/Marketing, Content, Devices, Monetizing Mobile

How to Make Money from Mobile Content

From the Mobile Content & Marketing Expo

San Jose, CA—How can you miss with a panel on making money? This session, with Joe Laszlo, director of advertising at the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), moderating a panel made up of mobile video executives, was packed. Each executive spoke about his or her company’s business model. Susan Cashen, vp of marketing at mywaves described the company as a handset agnostic mobile video service that delivers video around the world. “Because we’re free, we’re dependent on advertising,” she said. “We’ve also recently launched commerce with entertainment. When a consumer is immersed in an entertainment experience like watching a free Beyonce video, it’s a natural for them to be able to buy Beyonce content, both virtual and real goods.”

Transpera CEO Frank Barbieri described his company as “building the largest premium ad-supported mobile video network.” Networks in Motion is an applications and platform provider for the mobile phone, focused on search and navigation, with a subscription-based model. “Navigation and search is alive and well on the paid platform,” said CEO Doug Antone. Bytemobile CMO Adrian Hall said his company provides services to the carrier as an enabler to the end-user. “We basically enable the mobile Internet for the end-user,” he said. “And we see user-profile information which is useful for contextual and behavioral targeted advertising.”

On the advertising front, asked Laszlo, are advertisers are willing to pay a premium for mobile? Bytemobile’s Hall said the one thing that appears obvious is that the more targeted the ad, the more valuable. Barbieri said that mobile has far more focus of attention than the PC, where the screen could be displaying several windows and other distractions simultaneously. “For brand advertisers, that increased attention leads to better numbers,” he said. “I think the news is fairly good in these early days.” Cashen said about 6.5 million unique come to mywaves every month; they come twice a week and spend 20 minutes, watching 2 or 3 minute segments. “A 30-second pre-roll just won’t cut it,” she said. “In the short term, there are big opportunities to connect with consumers via direct marketing. There’s genius to leverage the video entertainment on the handset from the point of view of a brand. Taking what works on the web on mobile is taking baby steps,. You have this incredible storefront on the handset. Click-to-call, click-to-buy: there’s no better measurement. Leveraging the entertainment to create action is where we feel good.”

Cashen said that transcoding video for the consumer gives her company information on the consumers. “We have the ability to target by DMA, time of day, and type of handset,” she reported.

Everyone is trying to drive personalization and the consistency of brand across multiple devices, noted Hall and more personalized advertising based on user needs will create a dramatically stronger click-through rate. The mobile marketing campaign has to have ways to interact with the user, said Barbieri. “We work with our brand advertisers to brainstorm the mobile marketing campaign and how to target the audience.”

Antone observed that his company’s business model is different in that the user pays $10/month to navigate. “It’s no longer how you get from Point A to Point B,” he said. “We want someone to turn it on in the morning for real-time traffic information. Not just where’s the local movie theater but what’s playing and when. It’s all available on your client-server application on your handset. See us as a publisher that’s getting your content out to people. Our customers are the carriers, who sell to their customers. That’s our strategy. All of them have this $10 price point. At some point it’ll be $5 and beyond that it will be zero, a free application. The relevance of this is that when someone is mobile, they’re also motivated. When you’re in a browsing application and looking for a restaurant, you’re motivated to go. Targeted, pertinent advertising that can happen during that search is what we’re focused on.”

But to get the numbers, the only way the carriers can make that work is to draw in big percentages of their users. To get 50 to 60 percent, they’ll have to change the pricing model. “We’re betting on the idea that they’re going to try to do that and not roll over,” said Antone

Focusing on how the Networks in Motion product will one day be free, Antone talked about the challenge. “It depends how good we all are at creating the economics on the back end,” he said. “That listing of Italian restaurants in your neighborhood, for example. Would you find it offensive to get a manipulated search, where the restaurant that’s farther away pays to be listed first? When do consumers say, Forget it – you’re giving me something I don’t want. We have to do this in a way that there’s enough economics but the consumer still likes it.”

Finally, panelists spoke about the role of the carrier, between the extremes of a dumb pipe and a walled garden. “There is a smart pipe concept where there’s a tremendous amount of marketing and merchandising power that any one would be a fool to ignore, because they have a connection to the user with billing inserts, with product marketing on the deck,” said Barbieri. “There’s a relationship that can be used to promote content well. We have to move from a programming-type mentality of carriers to more of a merchandising, marketing and retail type of relationship. And that’s good for us and for the consumer as well. We have yet to get to the point where there are tremendous marketing and retailing competencies at some of the carriers, but that’ll change.

The carriers could move faster,” added Hall. “They are desperately trying to be smart pipes and it’s incumbent on us to work with them to become smarter. While they’re starting to recognize they’re sitting in a unique place and make smarter use of the user profiles they see. By doing that effectively, they’ll continue to be smart pipes or, in some cases become smarter pipes.”


Filed under Advertising/Marketing, Content, Monetizing Mobile

Social Networking: Money Maker or a Collection of Address Books?

I think it’s pretty obvious at this point in the game that social networking is likely to be a component of much if not most of mobile content. This panel on social networking was made up of Keith Katz, whose Cellufun company creates games with a strong social component; John Poisson is president of Tiny Pictures that allows users to share photos and videos among friends; Mikael Vinding at, which allows the user to create interactive mobile campaigns, and Christopher Ngyun at Bluepulse, a mobile messaging service dedicated to the mobile web. All the companies are ad-supported except for Bluepulse which is transaction-supported and which offers a mixed model.

Moderator Julie Ask at JupiterResearch noted that most people think of Facebook or MySpace when they think of social networking. She asked how social networking played into what each company is doing. Poisson says it’s defined as going into a community space, whether it’s a MySpace or Facebook type of model. Tiny Pictures is a much smaller version: your real social network, the ones you’ve called recently on your mobile phone. Vinding says he feels that what they does competes with Facebook in terms of an application, although they’ll never beat them at their game; but what his company does is built around the mobile platform rather than the “add-on” that Facebook is doing, said Vinding. “Everyone can create personal clubs online and free,” he said. “Through our service via mobile messaging, you can find a list of people from your torn, for example, and in a safe and anonymous way get to know them.”

Social networks are nothing more than a collection of address books, said Bluepulse’s Nguyen. But when you add mobile into it, the game changes. “Mobile is with you all the time and connections are much more likely to be interactive and maintained,” he said. “Add the 4 billion subscriptions we’re at today, and the really interesting opportunity is the mobile social networking space.”

Vinding disagreed with Nguyen’s belief that social networking is nothing more than a collection of address books. “You can update your status, which is stored and logged and can be data-mined,” he noted. “It’s a whole knowledge compendium of what a person is and what they like.”

Nguyen asked to respond. “Behavioral targeting is already proven as something that can make money, but is no where near as effective as [you think]. The value of looking at your yahoo mail traffic is a hundred-fold more important. The time aspect, not the relationship aspect is what people want, and mobile gives you that.”

Cellufun’s Katz said it boils down to the definition of social networking. “Social networking can be a group that has an interest in something and come together in large groups to pursue that,” he said. “We have millions of people into playing casual games on their phones and have learned it can be more fun doing it with a group with similar interests.” It would be hard to describe any part of a group that gets together with similar interests as not being social networking, added Tiny Pictures’ Poisson.

How do you monetize social networking? asked Ask. “You have to have a lot of folks doing it to make it work,” agreed Katz. “We have a pretty simple way of making money which is through display ads. We also do things that we can do because we’re more than a portal. We have a virtual economy, to play games or buy various goods. We’re now incorporating real brands into that mall. So you have to have a lot of people and find other ways of advertising aside from banner ads.”

Most of the growth of his business has been word-of-mouth, said Katz. “There’s also the stickiness factor and that becomes a more compelling message to advertisers.” “The nature of our business is based on the intimate nature of the phone, and it’s naturally viral because you have to get your friends to sign up,” said Poisson. “But you’re much more likely to come back because if I don’t send photos or comment on my friends photos, people will wonder where you are. It’s built into the nature of what we do. People get into the habit of checking every few hours. We’re a totally free, advertising-supported site.”

Tiny Pictures' Poisson talks; Cellufun's Katz looks on

Tiny Pictures' Poisson; Cellufun's Katz looks on

The most interesting revenue-creation model in his world is to be able to deliver sponsored content into the stream; the user could opt into a “Tropic Thunder” channel, which gave them behind-the-scenes footage of the movie in addition to their friends’ photos. Then consumers had a conversation around that comment. “That speaks to what these media-rich devices can do,” he said.

Social networking is like a big distribution channel, said Vinding. The vast majority of revenue on a Facebook is advertising. Yes, advertising is an immediate thing that can be done now, he said, but don’t just look at this as a social networking site on a PC, because the mobile is also a payment device, especially with premium text services that exists in every country. The third prong they’re looking at is media polling or surveys.

“You make money from the verbs not the nouns,” said Nguyen. “Facebook is a big noun, not a verb; it’s in the action that people express an intent and that’s where the money is to be made. We’re perfectly happy not to have our own social network. I fail to see the significance of social networks as a major money maker; it’s a collection of powerful address books.”

Will social networking on the cell phone be an extension of what goes on on the PC, or something quite different. “I think it’s a very different experience, with the always with you factor, the constant connection,” said Poisson. “Sharing bits of information with your friends all day long, engaging on the go is very different than what’s on the computer.”

Ask noted that teenagers and young adults want that constant checking-in. Will this kind of social networking be limited to youth, or to vertical communities? “I think it feels most relevant to the youth market: they’re comfortable with the technology and comfortable sharing,” said Poisson. “I would never have told my parents what I was doing every day, but my 25 year old sister is constantly texting, calling, sharing. And my mom is now sharing what she’s doing. It spreads from that.” Vinding said he’s seen vertical applications of that, from automotive to medical. “It’s around a specific interest or condition and it expands from there, incorporating all ages,” he said.

Why is the immediacy of the cell phone important for this kind of vertical content? “You can stay in touch, if you’re going someplace,” said Vinding. “The method of access is also important. Not everyone has a PC. Everybody has a mobile phone. If you were doing something where people needed an easy way to update everyday, it’s easy and it’s in your hand. It’s not just immediacy–it’s accessibility.”

“Immediacy is the one thing that’s different with the mobile phone and not on the PC,” agreed Nguyen. “It’s something that you just don’t want but because everyone else has it, you have to.” Do we really need things immediately? “Let’s not conflate immediacy with urgency,” said Poisson. “There is something about immediacy that strikes us all as wasteful or ridiculous. The best example with the younger generation is text-messaging which seems like a stupid, stupid way to communicate. But it has by all measures supplanted every other form of communication for this generation. It doesn’t interrupt you (although you can argue that) but a big part of its value is its immediacy. It’s not about urgency, it’s about now.”

Nguyen said “I think people will die without this stuff.” “I agree with John but I’d push the point further. Immediacy does mean urgency. Let’s say we need to know the population of Zimbabwe. A few years ago, it was reasonable to come back with an answer in a few days. Today, if you can’t come up with an answer in 5 minutes, you’re gone. In the future, if you can’t come up with the answer in 5 seconds, you’re gone. Immediacy is fundamentally transforming media.”

“What the iPhone does is – the UI is completely different which encourages more usage, people who use it are more likely to use gmail mobile and the WiFi platform: all those things conspire to say that we’re at an interesting shift,” said Nguyen. “I don’t think that in a few years we’ll dispute whether you need that piece of information in 5 minutes. You’ll need it.”

Ask asked the panelists if location play a role in social networking services. “We’re trying to figure that out,” admitted Katz. “We’re creating a world travel game, and what we’re doing is implementing a guide system so that if you live near that city you can be a guide and earn extra points for doing that. We think that will create more of a bond. We already see that people with sub-interests beyond gaming are forming their own groups on the site. For example, on their own, hundreds of people are participating in a site on mobile pets, virtual pets, that people are feeding. We’re trying to find ways that can help our users forge alliances based on geography which we think will increase the stickiness of the site.”

Vinding said that location is fun and interesting but in terms of social networking, one of the great benefits is that you can talk to people around the world. “I don’t necessarily want to talk to someone near me unless it’s dating or meeting local people to have beers,” he said. “We don’t see a lot of demand for location-based demands.” The scale and scope issues of location often aren’t discussed, said Poisson. “Location has the potential to be industry and experience changing but there’s a big difference between regionality and sitting in Conference Room 1 at the Marriott. Even with my closest friend, that’s a tough value proposition to get. People don’t even want their close friends to know where they are.”

One-quarter of teens want to track where their friends are, said Ask. They don’t want to be tracked, but they want to be able to track. “If I have taken 10 pictures in a restaurant in San Francisco and Ian and ten of my friends also take those pictures, maybe we’re at the same birthday party and put those pictures together,” said Poisson “I think that’s a lot more interesting than Where’s Ian right now?”

It’s not new to know where you are, said Nguyen. “If you’re late for a meeting, you’ll be able to give a status update,” he said. “Occasionally information about time will be useful but won’t add much to the transactional basis.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Advertising/Marketing, Monetizing Mobile