Ford and P&G (Mobile) Posse Up

Unsung mobile platform grows to Foursquare's scale; advertisers take notice

Mobile Posse says it has eclipsed the 15 million user mark, increasing its base by 50 percent in the last five months and putting it in striking distance of peripheral competitor Foursquare (20 million users).

The upstart mobile messaging software company powers a localized portal experience for wireless manufacturers and cellphone service providers like Verizon, MetroPCS, U.S. Cellular and Cricket. On those brands’ phones, Mobile Posse is presented as a native feature to which consumers can opt in (typically using the provider's brand name).

As with many personalized local/mobile services, users can choose what kinds of content they’ll receive, checking off their selections (sports, business, entertainment, etc.) in a process similar to an email preference center. Among the publishers providing content are USA Today, Associated Press and Yahoo News, among others.

The company has also announced $5 million in new funding this week and has signed on with another major telecom that should significantly lift its opt-ins as early as December, per CEO Jon Jackson.

Driven in part by its rapid growth, Mobile Posse has landed Ford, Procter & Gamble, Walmart, Kraft, Nissan, 7-11 and other major brands as advertisers. But Jackson remembers more meager times when the pitch to marketers was a daunting sell.

“We just had a big ad sales summit and our entire team got together,” Jackson said. “I said, ‘I want everyone in this room to know that I hugely respect what you do every day. But I also want you to know that once upon a time I had to do it. And I had to do it on a base of 10,000 [users]. If you think there’s anything harder than selling to Procter & Gamble or someone like that with 10,000 [users]…it doesn’t get any harder than that.’”

These days, Mobile Posse is able to deliver push notifications to users based on the content categories they have selected. Those notifications carry ads from top brands, and in some cases, Jackson said, after consumers click their smartphone screen, the promo expands in a fashion akin to a takeover ad.

"Our advertisers have different goals," he explained. "Some want to drive phone calls. Others want to drive people to their [mobile] sites. Others want to drive downloads of their applications or get people to watch a video."

His McLean, Va.-based firm has picked up 5 million opt-ins since January, mainly due to integration onto Android phones. Fifty-six percent of the users own non-smartphones, he said, while Android (39 percent) and BlackBerry (5 percent) round out the device lineup.

When speaking with his brand clients, Jackson said the conversation often begins and ends with scale.

“The question nowadays for advertisers is, ‘Can you give me a big enough number that works for me?’” he said. “For different people, there are different numbers.”


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