Thumbplay CEO Are Traasdahl tells us where the $18 million is going

John Shinal · March 18, 2008 · Short URL:

 Thumbplay CEO Are Traasdahl was breathing rarified air when he called us from New York this morning. 

With another $18 million in the bank, the founder of the largest mobile content company in the U.S. said Thumbplay is gearing up for a major overseas expansion that will likely include buying other mobile content startups.

"We're going to take this model and scale it internationally," Traasdahl told me, adding that the plan calls for evaluating potential acquisition targets to help Thumbplay break into specific country markets. 

While he wouldn't talk revenue, Thumbplay e-mailed me a Nielsen report that showed Thumbplay garnered 17% of all off-deck (non-carrier) revenue in the second half of 2007, giving it the largest market share by far. I'm checking with Nielsen to try and get the total market size.

The company's original revenue model was selling downloads to consumers, but now it's augmenting that with advertising. After experimenting with ad networks for a time, Traasdahl says "we sell our own ads now and get much higher CPMs."

He says the company is the biggest buyer of mobile advertising in the U.S., with the goal of driving traffic from big publisher sites to its mobile portal.

While 40% of handsets are now video capable, the company is focused on more traditional text and banner ads. "Big brand advertisers are coming into mobile, but they want to start with something they're comfortable with," he says.

Traasdahl also shared the following:

The company is also signing 10-15 distribution deals per week along the lines of existing ones with iLike, Facebook, AOL and MSN. It plans to announce one soon with "a big radio group."

- The company is signing 2-3 content deals per week, on top of existing ones with Sony Pictures, Universal Music Group and EMI

- It's Web site gets more than 4 million uniques per month, while its mobile portal gets 15-20 million page views monthly.

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