Options and Innovations in Monetizing Mobile Content

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Article ImageLast year's mobile data traffic was nearly 12 times the size of the entire internet in 2000, according to Cisco. Global mobile data traffic in 2012 was 885 petabytes per month, compared to internet traffic of 75 petabytes per month in 2000. That's a lot of bytes-and traffic continues to grow.

Given this exponential growth, and related opportunity, organizations of all kinds are eagerly looking for creative ways to connect and compel consumers to engage with their content, and their advertising, via mobile devices. As they do this, they're looking for effective ways to monetize those apps to drive revenue to the bottom line in ways that range from paid content to advertising, and more.

While traditional advertising continues to take a back seat to other forms of communicating with audiences, epublishers hoping to monetize their apps through ads will be happy to learn that about half of the respondents in the United States, Brazil, and China say that they are okay with seeing ads-if they are able to access free content, according to, "Ads on the Move How Messaging Has Gone Mobile" (a report on phone usage and mobile ads around the globe by The Nielson Co.).

Peggy Anne Salz is chief analyst and founder at MobileGroove, a mobile industry author, and a content marketing authority based in the Cologne area of Germany. She is the co-author of The Everything Guide to Mobile Apps and has identified 11 monetization models, "and still counting," she says.

Foundationally, says Salz, to achieve success with mobile apps "you have to think very carefully about what you want to achieve. ... The role of an app at this point in time has evolved very much to the understanding that an app is a follow-up to you making contact with me at some level." So, a user may read a newspaper online and decide he wants that newspaper on his phone. "So, already, almost by default, it becomes an instrument for engagement," she says. "You like me so much that you want me with you on your most personal device."

The role of an app is increasingly becoming a means to cement relationships and encourage engagement, she says. But in many instances, it's also a new revenue stream. Organizations are managing to monetize this very personal relationship in various ways.


A Wide Range of Options and Applications

Candy Crush, offered through King.com, is a new game that is taking the social media world by storm. If you're on Facebook, chances are you've seen ads for this game promoted via your homepage, telling you which friends are already Candy Crush fiends and exhorting you to play along. It's an example, says Yichel Chan, general manager of mobile development at Tremor Video, of apps that are finding success "at creating [a] strong desire to keep playing and playing, via a fee, paid via the in-purchase app." Some nongame apps are beginning to follow these same practices, he says.

Chan's experience is in video, and he notes that "many of the larger content publishers are moving their content in a very smart way to mobile," which involves both free viewership and subscription-based content. Monetization via video also frequently occurs in the form of advertisements, he says. "The guys we work with are essentially able to run video advertising against their mobile content and it seems to be working," he says. "I think people are already trained from their online experience to expect ads in front of content, so that's a strong movement that we've been seeing fairly recently."

Advertising and couponing represent ways that content developers can monetize their apps, above and beyond efforts to sell the content itself. Still, it is content sales that continue to drive the monetization model for many publishers.

For instance, mediabistro charges for its premium content and also sells books such as Get a Freelance Life and Small Screen, Big Picture via the Android store for $13.30 (along with the option to view a free sample).

Directory apps are also popular. WiFi Directory, for instance, lets users find local hotspots, at a typically low app rate of $1.99. Woodall Publications Corp. offers a number of directories to help users find campgrounds and RV parks (also at $1.99). There's even a directory of cheese: The Complete Cheese Directory (again, at $1.99).

There are billions of apps currently available, and the number is growing every day. For content providers hoping to monetize their mobile content, it's not as much about making content available (chances are, somebody else has already made the same type of content available, often at no cost) as it is about clearly conveying a distinct benefit to choosing you-and pay for that choice.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)

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