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Companies face challenges monetizing mobile apps

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Cloud-based and mobile technologies are rapidly reshaping the way business information is gathered, analyzed and consumed, but business information and media companies are still learning how to leverage these technologies to build revenue. At last week's roundtable event, Revenue Opportunities at the Intersection of Cloud and Mobile, hosted by the Software & Information Industry Association and American Business Media, three panelists shared their monetization experiences and challenges. Marc Chaikin is the founder of Chaikin Analytics, a 4-year-old company that uses proprietary analytics to distill complex financial data on the stocks of 5,000 companies into graphic tools. His original idea was to target the self-directed consumer investor with the Chaikin Power Gauge mobile app. “We designed this as a freemium model where the consumer could get a basic version for free and then pay to upgrade,” he said. “The problem with that model is that people who get something for free expect it to stay free.” After that experience, Chaikin decided to target institutional asset managers and financial advisers with his next product, a tablet workstation called Chaikin Analytics for iPad. Subscriptions to the iPad product sell for $195 per month or $1,950 per year. “People will pay for content that's presented in such a way that it makes it easy for them to talk to their clients. It has value for them,” he said. Living Abroad is an information company that has been providing detailed, country-specific data for large companies relocating employees overseas for more than 25 years. Michael Cadden, managing director, said Living Abroad is in the process of packaging its rich data on 176 destinations into a mobile app for business travelers that is scheduled to launch later this year. “We know we have incredible content on culture, social customs, getting around in various countries and so forth, but our challenge is that we don't know what to call the app, how to price it, how to market to individual business users or which features to include,” Cadden said. At SourceMedia, a b-to-b media company serving the financial services industry with subscription- and advertising-supported brands, the audience sets the pace for the company's mobile development, said Aneel Tejwaney, senior VP-technology. Four years ago, only 1% to 2% of SourceMedia's traffic came from mobile devices. Today, mobile traffic is above 10% and climbing. As a result, the company is about to employ technology, most likely responsive design, that will allow its websites to be viewed on any mobile phone, tablet or desktop computer, he said. SourceMedia's mobile sites are currently monetized with a CPM-based advertising model; but, Tejwaney said, “We now have to figure out how to go a step beyond that to create new mobile revenue.” The May 14 roundtable in New York was the first live event ABM and SIIA have conducted together since the two organizations approved a merger last month. The merger will become effective July 1.
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