Smart Device Media, a new premium mobile advertising network, was set to make its official debut today.
Former Ziff Davis CEO Jason Young and Tom Jones, a former executive at CNET and CBS Interactive, are the founders of Smart Device Media. The network features the Smart Device Tech Channel, a computer-oriented vertical that includes the mobile websites of familiar brands such as eWeek, PCMag.com and Slashdot.
Young said Smart Device eventually plans to create mobile networks in other verticals, such as the financial sector.
How smart of an idea is Smart Device Media? Michael Lieberman, account director at Joule, a mobile marketing agency that is part of WPP's GroupM, said the concept has a lot going for it. “Smart Device Media has created a great combination of high-quality, category-based targeting options with the audience scale we need to work with major brand advertisers,” Lieberman said in a statement.
Young and Jones see a large opportunity as marketers seek to reach the increasingly large audience of people accessing the mobile Web and consuming content on their smartphones. “We're seeing a ramp-up of consumer consumption of mobile devices unlike anything we've seen before, even when compared with the growth of the PC Web,” Young said.
“You need to be in touch with the audience, the way it's consuming information,” said Chuck Richard, VP-lead analyst at Outsell Inc. “But the [mobile] ad dollars have not kept up with the pace of it.”
Smart Device Media is betting that the mobile ad market, which Forrester projected will reach $4 billion by 2013, has a lot of catching up to do. “The ad market for mobile, which is growing and growing quickly, is still small compared to the audience,” Young said.
“We continue to see unprecedented growth in U.S. adoption of smartphones and other mobile content-consumption devices,” said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a consultancy. “The advertising opportunity in this sector is significant, but premium content publishers and marketers face real challenges. It's great to see businesses like Smart Device Media launching to help address these needs.”
For publishers, the new network provides a potential means of monetizing their mobile websites. “As a publisher of premium content for the enterprise technology community, we think the solution offered by Smart Device Media makes a lot of sense and is particularly welcomed in an emerging area like mobile,” said Ziff Davis Enterprise CEO Steve Weitzner, whose company is part of the new network, in a statement.
Although it was just officially announced, the Smart Device Tech Channel has been up and running since the summer, Young said. Six campaigns are already using the new network, and he said they have seen eight to 10 times better performance than comparable PC Web advertising.
Because the ads are targeted and appearing on the mobile sites of recognized publishing brands, Young said, marketers are paying an average of $15-to-$20 CPMs, with the highest rates reaching $50 CPMs.
Among the obstacles in getting marketers to embrace mobile advertising is the small size of the typical phone screen, although the introduction of the iPhone (and its larger screen) four years ago did provide a bigger canvas for the creative department.