Jason Young, who was CEO of Smart Device Media and now holds the same position at the combined company, compared the rise of the mobile Web to that of the desktop Web. “I think it's very similar, except that it's happening in a much more compressed time frame,” he said. “There's a sharp acceleration.”
Crisp Media offers a rich-media mobile advertising platform, delivering for the mobile Web what PointRoll and Unicast do for the desktop Web. And the company Crisp acquired, Smart Device Media, built mobile vertical ad networks that include more than 200 premium brands. In its technology vertical, Smart Device Media attracted publishing brands such as Geeknet and Ziff Davis Enterprise.
“This is going to be the year of mobile,” said Matt Sweeney, chief revenue officer of Geeknet, whose properties Slashdot and SourceForge are part of what is now Crisp Media's technology mobile ad network.
Sweeney viewed the relationship with the mobile ad network as a test, and it is an experiment that has worked, proving the value of the mobile audience and delivering incremental revenue. “We haven't spent as much time on mobile as we should have,” he said.
The company has hired a person to work on improving the mobile user experience for its more than 1 million unique visitors per month that access Geeknet sites via mobile devices.
Geeknet is not the only media company wading deeper into mobile. International Data Group, for instance, launched its Mobile@IDG initiative earlier this year. The program includes a dozen products and services—both new and existing options—such as mobile sponsorships of IDG media sites, rich-media units placed in iPad magazines and mobile “partner zones,” in which marketer content is co-branded near relevant IDG content on mobile devices.
Matthew Yorke, president of IDG Global Solutions, said IDG expects to double its mobile revenue in its fiscal 2012, which began Oct. 1.
Ziff Davis Enterprise is moving all of its print magazines to digital. As of January, Baseline, CIO Insight and eWeek will appear only in a number of digital/mobile formats. Channel Insider, an online sister brand, will also make the transition. ZDE has already begun to introduce digital editions, websites and native apps specifically geared for a variety of smartphones—such as the Android, BlackBerry, iPhone and Windows Phone 7—as well as the iPad, Rim Playbook and Android tablets.
“For publishers, certainly Ziff Davis Enterprise is a leader with their seven apps for each of their four brands,” said Chuck Richard, VP-lead analyst at Outsell Inc.
“We're at a really critical inflection point,” Young said. “The big brands are starting to figure out, "We've got to get going' (on mobile).”