New Frontier for Mobile at NewFronts


The Digital Content NewFronts are on again in New York City. Not to be confused with the TV UpFronts, the NewFronts event is a showcase for online content owners to pitch ad spots to brands.

37 creators including Hearst, Vice, Youtube and Mashable present their upcoming digital video series. One of the themes emerging this year is the deeper integration of promotional messages into the content.

While product placement is a concept as old as commercial media, the trend towards “native content” has been accelerated by ad blockers and a general sense of over-saturation in the online market.

So promotional content is becoming part of the story. What about becoming part of the platform – particularly smartphones? A tighter integration of video into the mobile user experience opens a whole new revenue stream for operators. But it must be executed in a sensitive manner or it will annoy users.

Publishing content directly to the smartphone creates interesting new content units. Lock screens, wallpapers, app interstitials and notifications are all new real estate that can be used to engage subscribers with relevant video content.

Two important qualifications for this work: timing and relevancy.

As with most things in life, timing is everything. You look at your phone 100-200 times per day, mostly with a purpose in mind: checking e-mail, your calendar, Facebook. But at other times, you have time to kill, and want to be entertained. Picking the right moment in the mobile users’ day magnifies the engagement with the message up to 10x.

Relevancy is also key. It’s got to be content you’re interested in or it will be ignored. Pushing content to users before they know they want it requires you to know the type of content users like across different contexts e.g. before work, or commuting.

Understanding what smartphone users want to watch, and when they want to watch it unlocks a whole new set of business models and network efficiencies for mobile operators. As the line between content, advertising, and platforms blurs, deep mobile video integration represents a multibillion dollar growth opportunity.

Mark Adams is CEO of Incoming Media, a startup enabling new business models for mobile operators and OEMs. Like this and follow me for regular updates on mobile, media and the video value chain. 

Picture: Randy Lemoine / Flickr