Think Mobile — Mobile Content Strategies: What Works?


It feels to me as if the app and content space just got a lot more serious. The elephant in the room is the Apple iPad.

Those words were spoken by editor in chief Lance Ulanoff in his role as moderator of a panel titled Mobile Content Strategies: What Works? at the Think Mobile conference at Comix in New York Wednesday morning.

The iPad’s predecessor, the iPhone, was the topic of quite a bit of discussion. AdMob senior director of ad sales Brendon Kraham said, “Pre-iPad, pre-iPhone, it was all about feature-based phones. A lot of app developers have changed their focus and are thinking iPhone because it’s become so big, so huge, and a game-changer in so many ways.” And Mobile Roadie CEO Michael Schneider chimed in, “As far as usage and engagement, the iPhone still blows them all away.”

But the iPhone isn’t the only game in town. Handmark CEO Paul Reddick said, “In the United States, it would be iPhone, Android, BlackBerry…Windows Mobile is kind of hanging in there. It’s important to pay attention to Nokia internationally.” And Jennifer Stenger, who handles licensing and business development for mobile markets at The Associated Press, added, “We decided that we have to support every platform out there and support that platform with the best experience on that device, which unfortunately requires development on each platform, which is tough to sustain.” Despite his earlier pro-iPhone comment, Kraham said, “You need to be somewhat ubiquitous with all of those platforms.”

Geo-tagging technology, a hot topic of late, was also discussed, with Kraham saying, “Geo is huge. A lot of geo data really comes from the carriers. The only way to truly geo-target is via Wi-Fi,” and Schneider adding, “I think knowing where someone is is the single most important thing for mobile.”

The panelists at Mobile Content Strategies: What Works? also offered suggestions on how the mobile user experience can be improved. Mobile Web sites were a hot-button item, as Kraham said, “If you go to a PC version of a mobile landing page, it’s pretty much a terrible user experience,” and Schneider added, “I don’t understand why more companies today just don’t create mobile versions of their Web sites.” Reddick agreed, saying, “Mobile gives media brands an opportunity to regain some of their brand image and brand loyalty. Have your own Facebook site. Get the word out.”

The panelists also suggested ways to increase penetration for apps, with Schneider saying, “The users of your app will help you snowball the app. Plurality is the most important thing,” and Kraham adding, “Discovery is the biggest challenge overall. Being featured is certainly one great way to drive installs, but it’s certainly challenging. The app store ranks based on a rolling 24-hour window. If you’re not in the top 25 or top 50 of your given category, you’re basically invisible.”

Reddick has not succumbed to iPad fever yet, saying of the Apple tablet, “I don’t think the iPad is a mobile device: I think it’s a portable device.” On a struggling company in the mobile space, he added, “Media companies are not coming to us screaming to go to the Palm.”