At UBM TechWeb, “mobile is another platform, not another business,” said Ed Grossman, exec VP of the InformationWeek Business Technology Network and one of the leaders of TechWeb's digital best practices team. “We're expanding our current business model into mobile; we're not here to champion one channel over another.” Therefore, monetization of the mobile platform will come from “tying together multiple platforms for clients to make sure they can engage with our users wherever those users want to engage with our content,” he added.
“In 2011, we were able to gain critical mass on the iPad—we now have 14 iPad apps within the TechWeb portfolio—and we redid our mobile sites,” Grossman said. “In 2011, we allowed each group some flexibility to find the right strategy for their markets. In 2012, we'll achieve greater unification of approach as we scale the best practices across TechWeb. There will be a continued evolution at an accelerated pace.”
Anthony Adams was senior VP-products at Ziff Davis Enterprise before leaving the company last month when it was sold to QuinStreet Inc. Last year, ZDE “made the decision to go all-out” in mobile, he said. While the majority of media companies have developed native apps for one or two operating systems, ZDE launched native apps for five different smartphone operating systems—Android, Apple's iOS, Microsoft's Windows Phone, Nokia's Symbian and RIM's BlackBerry—as well as three tablet formats, iOS, Android and BlackBerry PlayBook, for a total of 36 native apps. In addition, all the company's mobile websites received a face-lift, and regular websites were optimized for viewing on tablets.
As well as providing users with experiences tailored to a variety of mobile devices, ZDE was differentiating content and advertising for each platform—digital magazines, the Web, smartphones and tablets. “If you don't have a solid editorial strategy that differentiates content for each platform, you will only cannibalize your brands and move money from one place to another,” Adams said.
Similarly, ZDE helped advertisers prepare ads for mobile platforms. “We had a small number of [initial] partners, and we were working very closely with them to develop creative for tablets,” Adams said. “We were looking to create industry-leading engagement metrics.”
Those metrics were based on actions users could take within an ad, such as watching a video or sharing content through email or social posting. Mobile advertising at ZDE was sold on a CPM or impression basis. Even though many media companies are using a one-price sponsorship model with mobile apps, Adams said ZDE chose to go with traditional digital advertising metrics to make the buying process easy and transparent.