Tag Archives: WAP advertising

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.”

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Filed under Advertising/Marketing, Content, Monetizing Mobile

Q&A with Kim Senn, VP Product, Airborne Entertainment

What is Airborne best known for in the mobile space?

Airborne was one of the early entrants into the mobile marketplace. The company has partnered with prominent brands to bring those brands to mobile. In the early days, that included Disney and HBO. Today our portfolio includes Maxim, Family Guy, NHL Mobile, and Speed Channel. We work with them to be able to take their brands and properties and bring them into the mobile space. It’s important that we develop the right product mix for the brand we’re working with.

We span all mobile product lines. We do graphics and ringtones and ringback tones, WAP applications, mobile games and applications, SMS and video and we’re really expanding to include some of the emerging product lines as well.

What is your most successful product?

The biggest revenue generator over the last couple of years has been wallpaper. Wallpapers are still huge.

What do you see as the up and coming revenue earner?

We’re starting to move into opportunities in WAP advertising. We do some WAP sites for our brand, for Maxim and the NHL. I think there’ll be a lot of growth potential for WAP advertising. Another growth area for us is mobile promotions. We’re seeing some great success in that area. We just did one with Taco Bell in Canada.

What is your involvement in producing original video content for the mobile platform?

We were really fortunate to work with Verizon and Sprint early on for video. Currently we are managing the programming of three channels for Verizon V Cast: the Maxim channel MaximToGo, the NHL channel and a comedy channel just rebranded Vidiotic.

What does it mean to manage a channel?

We source out the content. We handle working with partners on formatting the content or we do some formatting ourselves. Making sure the content is refreshed and available for consumers. So we handle it from start to finish.

We also do some originally produced content as well, for the Vidiotic channel. Our approach to that channel has been to be a little more edgy and underground in the kind of content we’re programming. Because we know we’re going up against the Comedy Centrals, which have access to marquee names and bigger budgets. Our approach is a little bit more on the viral side, closer in spirit to what we might see on YouTube or Heavy. It’s more the indy approach to comedy programming.

What about the 3rd party content?

We find content that is already produced but doesn’t have a distribution avenue for mobile for North America. We have companies that approach us as well as we’re out there scouring the web.

We’re looking for content across the board. We have two categories: Too Stupid for TV and Eyeball Glue. Those are short-form sketch comedy. But we’re branching out into original productions, where we act as Executive Producers and help fund the project. Two in particular are Bitchin’ Kitchen, which is a very edgy comedy cooking show. The clips are averaging between one and two minutes. Then Mobile Wingman is another property we’re excited about. It’s a made-for-mobile content project with a guy who gives dating and life advice to clueless people. Those are also one to two minutes. We generally do short easily digestible clips.

Our approach has been to grab somebody quick and pull them in. Two of the acronyms we use to describe our video strategy are WTF (what the fuck) and LOL (laugh out loud). That’s the kind of content we’re looking for. Things a little more offbeat, a little edgier than you’d find in traditional comedy programming, things that push the boundaries.

What kinds of production companies do you work with? Are they traditional production companies?

Most of the companies do web programming. Not TV production companies; it’s difficult to take existing broadcast content and use it for the mobile screen. It really needs to be mobile specific. It’s difficult to repurpose existing content.


When you take something designed for a much bigger screen and then reduce it down to mobile’s 200×200 resolution, you won’t see anything. You’ll see tiny figures. Also, the viewer’s attention span is much shorter. You need to get someone’s attention quickly and get in and get out.

Do you think video is going to be a bigger part of your mix going forward?

We are definitely broadening the programming. We’re trying to bring more to the table for the carriers so that the content is really designed for mobile, fresh and innovative and high quality. Anyone can do a quick home video clip with their phone and upload it to YouTube. We want to get the same feel but with quality content.

For Maxim we’re working closely with the brand. They’re providing a lot of content and we’re doing a little bit of comedy content in with the mix.

Bitchen Kitchen isn’t launched yet. We’re wrapping up the content with the other producers and talent and we’re acting as executive producers. They’ve sourced the talent. The person starring in it has done a lot of the writing. It’s being produced in Montreal.


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