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How to monetize mobile inventory: ThinkMobile panelists

NEW YORK - As mobile has proved to be a unique channel, the dedicated mobile ad networks need to keep differentiating themselves.

Panelists at MediaBistro's ThinkMobile Conference and Expo in New York offered case studies on the effectiveness of mobile media buying and illustrated current opportunities for mobile marketing and advertising, as well as the best approaches for the agencies and brands to deliver the mobile message.

"Mobile has a tremendous amount of inventory, generating billions of pages views a month, half going to social media sites," said Steve Smith, Mobile Insider columnist at Mediapost, New York.

"The question is how do we monetize such a massive inventory and keep from alienating users," he said.

In order to monetize content on mobile it is important to remember that there are a lot of things that are unique about mobile. There are differences between carries and handsets and these things need to be taken into account when serving an ad to a specific consumer.

Steven Rosenblatt, vice president of advertising sales for Quattro Wireless, Waltham, MA, said that it is important to make the ads interactive, forcing the consumer to take a lot of different actions.

"Mobile has different data points," Mr. Rosenblatt said. "It isn't just about the content.

"On mobile you need to target by device manufacturer, platform and capability," he said. "Then there's the carrier, demographics and behavioral data too."

Ad networks are helping build the mobile marketplace for consumers. They help major media brands get into the space.

Ad networks help develop mobile sites for publishers. They ensure that the sites are adapted for the device.

The quality of the content drives engagement so it is important to ensure the user's experience with the content is user-friendly.

"Virtually all major online publishers now provide mobile versions of content," said Eric Eller, senior vice president of client solutions for Millennial Media, New York. "Mobile-only Web content is becoming more the exception than the rule."

Also, content distributed via applications is increasingly popular. There is real evidence of user migration away from online to mobile for categories such as real estate and weather.

Ad networks provide custom media plans that meet specific audience requirements.

Audience composition data represents a combined score of index data from Nielsen and the company's own data.

Mr. Eller said that there were more than 350 brand campaigns in 2008 and he expects this number to grow.

Why?

"Mobile consistently outperforms online on the most important advertiser metrics," Mr. Eller said

Mr. Eller talked about the Eagle Eye Mobile Challenge campaign, which ran on Millennial Media's ad networks.

The campaign saw 131,000 interactions and a 10.77 percent interaction rate.

"Focus on SMS," Mr. Eller said. "It is ubiquitous and it's easy to do.

"Text messaging acts as the activation point for major media content by providing consumers a simple way to find advertisers and their mobile assets," he said

According to Paran Johar, chief marketing officer of JumpTap, New York, the mobile Internet is becoming an essential component to advertisers media mix.

The iPhone comprises 8.2 percent of all U.S. handsets and 67 percent of all mobile traffic.

"The impression you make on a consumer is vital," Mr. Johar said. "Consumers want and crave relevance."

Brian Murphy, eastern regional sales director for AdMob, San Mateo, CA, said that the iPhone is where all the excitement comes from.

"Campaigns will perform better if you're going after a specific target audience," Mr. Murphy said. "The iPhone provides that scaled targeted reach and transparent analytics and metrics."

Robert Walczak Jr., founder/CEO of Ringleader Digital, New York, stressed the importance of real-time reporting and analytics to maximize performance.

"Contextual targeting is important," he said. "Also, leverage keywords contextually, build a profile for a brand or agency to more effectively target.

"Use the lessons learned from online and leverage existing technology," he said.