Magazines Must Move On Mobile Initiatives

Boca Raton, FL--Magazines have been slow to launch mobile content initiatives. They must shift into high gear--or risk missing out on a new wave of digital commerce that will rival the emergence of the Internet as an economic engine in the 1990s, according to mobile media and measurement executives speaking at the American Magazine Conference on Monday.

"This is 1993-1994 all over again, but you have got to get on board faster than you did with the Internet," warned Jon Bulkeley of Scanbuy, a company that uses bar codes to allow mobile consumers to respond to ads. Citing some statistics, moderator Richard Glosser, executive director of emerging media for CondeNet, noted that of the top 50 magazines, only one-third had introduced mobile initiatives--even though over 85% of the U.S. population owns a mobile device, and 35 million of these surf the mobile Web.

Since mobile usage costs money, "mobile content is begging for ad support," according to Will Hodgman, co-founder and CEO of M:Metrics, a company that tracks mobile activity. According to Steve Siegel, director of market development for Enpocket, mobile offers attractive CPMs from $15-$40 per thousand impressions. The quality of the audience matters as much as scale in monetizing impressions: Bulkely said that Nike "is going to buy every impression on the Runner's World mobile site," even if there are only 50,000 total.

There are other opportunities for monetizing mobile content, and marketers have only begun to explore the possibilities, the panelists agreed. Glosser pointed to the use of mobile devices to enable direct-response print advertising, giving magazines' print versions a boost.

Expanding on this possibility, Bulkeley said that Scanbuy's type of bar code technology is already in wide use in Japan, where users can scan the bar code in a magazine and be taken directly to the mobile site for that product--without having to navigate the Web.

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