Forecasting the future of mobile monetization

Brian Wong · May 1, 2014 · Short URL:

We're looking at the wrong metric. Focus on moments, not impressions

The noise surrounding mobile and how to successfully monetize it is beginning to grow deafening. As this space continues to mature, there are so many solutions yet so few answers.

(Editor's Note: On May 7, Brian will be on a panel at Vator Splash Oakland on the "Future of mobile monetization." A look at challenges and investment opportunities across this fast-growing market segment from leading founders/CEOs leading the charge and investors making big bets. Moderator:  Tom Patterson (Serial entrepreneur); Panelists: Panelists: Brian Wong (Founder & CEO, Kiip), Ashu Garg (Partner, Foundation Capital), Yousuf Bhanjee (Disney/Zynga), Rob Goldman (Facebook), Steven Fan (Yahoo))

Here’s what I think will win out in the end:

Moments (Not Impressions).

Why is mobile so different than platforms that have preceded it? It’s the most personal device we’ve ever owned and one of the first devices that is directly tied to our emotions. For instance, when you pull up Yelp on your phone, that is an explicit manifestation of intent – you are hungry and want to eat. Instead of impressions, use a different type of metric that is better suited to mobile – moments.

Moments are special times in app use where the user accomplishes a goal and gets a dopamine rush (e.g., logging a workout, checking off an item from a to-do list). These natural breaks are the ideal time for brands to engage consumers and augment their happiness with a reward, digital coupon, promo code or virtual currency.

Quality (Not Quantity) – Traditional and digital media is largely bought through reach and frequency models where success is essentially defined by how many times the consumer sees something – not whether they actually engaged with the brand. While this has sustained the advertising industry for TV and the Web, we can’t keep using this old buying model on this new platform.

Repetition doesn’t work on mobile because the device is so intimate to us. I like to say it’s like asking a girl out a dozen times – if it’s still no, it will always be no. You’re doing more harm than good for your brand by haphazardly plastering ads everywhere. Remember, in mobile, less is more.

Serendipity (Not a Tonnage Play) – While our phones never leave our sides, advertising shouldn’t always be part of the mobile experience. This may sound strange coming from someone in the mobile advertising industry, but let me explain. Like a letter from a friend you weren’t expecting, there is greater brand equity to be gained from surprising and delighting your audience at key moments. Avoid always-on ad solutions and make a bigger impact by taking the unexpected route.

Preserving (Not Disrupting) Behavior – Advertising has rarely been a welcome guest. It interrupts TV shows, songs on the radio and that article you want to read. Don’t force consumers to do anything that prevents them from arriving at their desired destination. Instead, preserve organic behavior patterns and prioritize the user experience above everything. Find those moments where your brand can seamlessly fit into their lives and cater to the context of their existing behavior. For example, when a recipe is bookmarked in a cooking app, a food brand can step in and add value without altering the consumer’s original intent.

Mobile offers so much promise and potential for advertisers, which is why it’s so disappointing to see brands waste this opportunity with banner ads.

Don’t be the one that settles for the status quo. Kiip the moment on mobile.

(Image source: techwyse)

Read more from our "Lessons and advice" series

More episodes