Most traditional publishers in South Africa have mobile websites (mobisites), making their print and/or online content available to anyone with a cellphone that connects to the internet.
Local publishers have been successful in making their mobisites easy to browse with good content. However, the next challenge is implementing a successful strategy to cost-effectively grow mobile traffic. As with their other channels, current economic conditions mean publishers will soon look to monetise this traffic as well. Growing readership quickly and cost-effectively, without cannibalising other revenue streams, is vital.
The obvious but not-so-effective strategy
Many online and print publishers around the world who have launched mobisites have looked to existing channels to promote their new content. This has included print advertising and online banners, using both their own sites and other non-competing portals, in order to try to create awareness and boost readership. The difficulty with using other mediums to promote a mobisite is that publishers are asking readers to jump mediums when they have no compelling reason to do so. Why would someone pick up their cellphone and look at a news mobisite when they are already reading a much larger website or a newspaper?
Apart from those readers who are simply curious, the publisher has to rely on readers to remember when they are on the move that they can get their news on their cellphone. Jumping across mediums is too much of a barrier for most readers and the result is that traffic on publishers’ mobisites does not increase in line with expectations.
The knock-on effect
The obvious knock-on effect is that it is harder to generate advertising revenue from advertisers looking to reach a mobile audience because traffic stats are not convincing enough. Less advertising means less revenue from the mobile channel, which often makes the business case for further investment into the mobisite more challenging.
While publishers could consider using a subscription model to increase revenue, the general trend worldwide is to move to a free-content model that monetises traffic through advertising, as it is proving to be more effective.
The mobile solution
The answer to this conundrum lies in publishers using mobile advertising to promote their mobisite to users who are already on the mobile web.
Mobile advertising networks can customise advertising campaigns to target adverts to people in a specific country. Publishers can therefore advertise their mobisites on non-competing local and international mobisites, targeting local users to assist in driving traffic back to their mobisites.
Following the successful execution of a mobile advertising campaign to increase the traffic from new and existing readership, publishers are able to make a more compelling case for local advertisers to spend on the mobile version of their content offering, in addition to print and online.
The trend internationally is for publishers to re-invest all profits in their mobisite to improve the quality and range of content offered.
Publishers can now think about using their mobisites and mobile marketing campaigns to drive mobile users to other mediums.
For example, a broadcaster could put exclusive news about the developments in a popular television series on their mobisite, so that their mobile users are more likely to watch the series on TV to find out what happens. An important benefit of mobile is that it is one of the most measurable advertising mediums: A mobile advertising campaign can be tracked in real time.
Publishers of mobile content can use mobile analytics tools to understand their readers, improve the performance of their mobisite, and evaluate the sources of their mobile traffic.
Given that the mobile web audience is larger than the traditional PC internet audience in South Africa, it’s vitally important for publishers to evaluate how effective their efforts to promote their mobisites are proving to be and how they can improve them.
Jason Morse is the senior director of international relations at AdMob, the world’s largest mobile advertising network. Morse previously managed all aspects of Yahoo!’s mobile browsing initiatives.
- This article first appeared in The Media magazine (December 2008).