Delivering the content that consumers want to their mobile devices where tiny screens and keypads make finding and buying content a chore is no small task. To break this usability barrier, an increasing number of mobile network operators and content companies are scrambling to monetize their digital assets with the help of content discovery schemes that help match the right users with the right content.
This sort of behavior signals the arrival of a mobile megatrend that plays in favor of ChangingWorlds, an Irish provider of personalization technology whose ClixSmart platform—designed to provide individual consumers with a "proactive recommendation of content based on their preferences and context"—has been deployed by 50-plus mobile operators around the world.
ChangingWorlds’ ClixSmart platform includes a variety of solutions in areas such as content recommendation, mobile search, and mobile advertising. At the core of this platform is a profiling and personalization engine that captures subscriber intelligence by automatically monitoring the implicit behavior of how customers use and navigate the mobile web.
"It’s about learning from the clues consumers leave behind: browsing patterns, buying habits … what they like, and, more importantly, what they don’t," explains David Moran, ChangingWorlds CEO. "This allows us to create richer preference profiles and combine this information with external sources of complementary data, ranging from user demographics to mobile billing records."
The tie-up with Sprint Nextel underlines the importance of subscriber intelligence and the pivotal role of relevancy in the content delivery equation. Sprint’s objective is to "automatically learn what content the customer likes and put it on their homepage," thus enabling Sprint customers to access genuinely useful content they will most likely appreciate.
In this scenario, ChangingWorlds’ ClixSmart solution automatically generates personalized, dynamic content teasers that enrich the Sprint Web experience and stimulate increased click-throughs. ClixSmart teasers are rotated dynamically and personalized according to the user profile.
In Moran’s view, many factors—including the avalanche of mobile content, the rise of the mobile web, and mounting pressure on mobile operators to tear down walled-garden portals and to enable consumers to access any content they like—are forcing carriers and content companies to shift the burden of information access away from the end user. "We need to move from a paradigm of information search to one of information supply," Moran says. "Instead of expecting the user to actively search for information, whether by browsing an operator portal or searching for content, we must proactively supply the user with the right information at the right time in the right way."
Mobile operator customers who have deployed ChangingWorlds personalization technology report substantial improvement in their bottom line as well as to the quality of the mobile internet experience they provide. According to company research, mobile operators have seen on average a 20% increase in ARPU (average revenue per user) within 6 months. Operators also report about a 50% reduction in click-distance—the amount of time it takes consumers to reach the wireless services they want—and a 40% reduction in failed sessions—the number of times a consumer browses on a mobile portal without downloading content.
Going forward, ChangingWorlds plans to broaden its focus beyond mobile operators and content companies to address the wider opportunities around content discovery such as voice-activated content portals, online destinations, and electronic program guides for digital television. Another objective is to enable the delivery of more relevant advertising, a critical point since the mobile industry is counting on ad-funded content schemes to accelerate demand and use of content and services.
Subsidizing content delivery through advertising will certainly make mobile surfing more affordable for consumers—and profitable for content providers. But there is a catch: Empowered consumers will likely ignore or, worse, resent advertising they find irrelevant.
Moran observes that advertising is another form of content. Here again, harnessing the learned preferences of mobile users enables the delivery of highly targeted ad messaging and offers. "Personalization improves the relevance of mobile advertising and ensures that users are not spammed by messages they consider irrelevant or just plain annoying."
However, it’s not just about delivering a better user experience and targeted ads. ChangingWorlds expects that operators and content companies will be able to charge advertisers a premium for their services and for the ability to deliver the right content to the right user, thereby achieving the right results.
Fun Fact: The company was named after a BBC TV Show, Changing Rooms, a DIY show in which designers and homeowners work in teams to transform another teams’ dull room into one with a wow factor.
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