MTV Networks aims to lure more advertisers to its mobile properties with eye-catching ads through a new partnership with Crisp Wireless. Under the agreement, MTV will work with Crisp to develop rich media ad options for marketers across mobile sites for its networks including MTV, Comedy Central, Spike, Nickelodeon and CMT.
The two have already teamed up on a high-impact ad for the Air Force in which an Air Force jet appears to crash through the screen of MTV's mobile home page. The campaign featuring the "screen-smasher" unit ran during December and generated a much higher than usual click-through-rate, according to Sol Masch, director of mobile marketing for MTV.
He expects the company's 10 mobile sites to feature more such attention-grabbing ads throughout 2010. "These are different than typical rich media ads that have no interaction with the page itself," said Masch, also referring to a prior animated ad for EA's Sims3 game in which a character walked onto the Comedy Central mobile site and pulled down one of its headers.
To entice its youthful, tech-savvy audience in particular, the MTV is looking to ad formats that go beyond traditional mobile banners. At the same time, its brand advertisers want to get that audience to interact with their ad content.
To that end, the cable TV giant has a team of in-house developers and designers to generate ad unit concepts that Crisp will help bring to fruition via its rich media ad platform.
So far, the high-end ads that MTV has developed on behalf of advertisers have been geared to the iPhone, but Masch said he expects to start optimizing units for Google's Android platform this year as more and more Android phones hit the market.
He is encouraged by the growing interest in mobile advertising heading into 2010. "One thing we've noticed over the last year was that the overall size of budgets is going up," said Masch, estimating that spending on MTV mobile sites has roughly doubled. Depending on the budget, that could be from $25,000 to $50,000, or $50,000 to $100,000 or higher.
He also noted that in the fourth quarter of 2009, MTV virtually sold out all of its mobile sites for the first time. Masch expects the first quarter of 2010 to be slower, as is typical across media, but to pick up later in the year.
To put MTV's mobile growth in perspective, however, it still only amounts to a fraction of the company's digital ad revenue, and probably will remain so for at least the next few years. But Masch is confident that mobile advertising will continue to ramp up steadily from a small base.