Third Screen's A Charm: How To Popularize, Socialize And Monetize Mobile Content

Ringtones, wallpapers and banner ads -- that's it? To attract today's 3 billion mobile users, many of whom graduated from rattles to keyboard and mouse, the mobile content universe simply has to expand. By tapping into advanced, contextualized content and social networking services, content providers are finding effective ways to extend their relationship with consumers across another medium -- and to more easily monetize their mobile services. And while the third screen may be smaller than its TV and PC predecessors, the untapped potential for creative content is nothing short of gigantic.

First Off, Be Realistic

As media companies look to stimulate mobile content consumption and monetization, first and foremost, it becomes important to understand what the mobile experience is and also what it isn't -- namely, a slavish extension of the PC. Aside from large variances in mobile handset models -- making it impractical to uniformly adapt desktop content for mobile rendering -- the mobile paradigm has other important distinctions.



For starters, content needs to be more personalized, "snackable" and tailored to the on-the-go mobile user, who doesn't have the time, attention span, battery life or optimal screen size for watching monolithic video segments. Offering bite-sized content requires a mobile content delivery model that is more targeted, exposing consumers only to content of interest based on their explicit preferences and implicit ones, easily captured through metadata.

The Personalization Mandate -- and What It Means for Advertisers

Easy and intuitive access to this personalized content -- delivered on what is arguably users' most personal device -- is imperative to generating and sustaining user interest. As Internet cloud services continue to emerge to provide a simple, one-touch and thoroughly customized experience, companies are likely to see an increase in user eyeballs and, consequently, advertising revenues.

The value proposition for advertisers is clear: Harnessing metadata that addresses explicit and implicit viewing habits and then leveraging ad networks to serve, for example, a pre-roll video ad of high interest, will provide consumers with a more relevant, helpful experience -- and one that they're more eager to do business with. Similarly, the fact that mobile devices are inherently "context rich" -- providing personal information such as user demographics, location and other preferences -- represents a huge opportunity for advertisers, who can tap this information to deliver context-appropriate advertising in real time.

Getting Social With It

So faced with this highly relevant, engaging -- and perhaps important, newsworthy or even humorous -- content, what can consumers do with it? To build brand power, companies are generating interactive rich media content that enables mobile users to easily comment on and share interesting information.

Thus, in following a brand to the third screen, consumers are increasingly forming dynamic mobile communities and 'mobile media circles' oriented around items of common interest -- continually annotating and sharing media among members who would display high interest and continually shifting group composition based on the relevancy of said media. This model is another mobile differentiator and is distinct from the behavior patterns of static desktop-oriented communities, which feature predominantly one-way information sharing patterns.

It follows that this new breed of social networking will also enable a massive new category of mobile advertising, with the potential explosion of virally disseminated content. With "buddy blasts" able to seamlessly bridge and reach out to Facebook, MySpace and other social media contacts, sports fans across various networks can marvel at that too-close-to-call third out, along with the embedded ad for tickets to next week's game.

Furthermore, as the desktop social networking experience is seamlessly extended to the mobile device, user-generated content (UGC) will also play an important role. By introducing UGC into dynamic mobile communities built upon items of common interest, viral activities can be further monetized.

Putting It All Together

As content publishers navigate the mobile terrain, they're increasingly seeking turnkey solutions that will help them create, deploy, differentiate and monetize rich mobile media services, resulting in high levels of user engagement. By offering a variety of advanced, interactive and highly personalized content, brands that already have a TV and/or PC presence are finding that the third screen is a charm.

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