Mobile World Congress News: Behaviour-matched advertising on mobile

Mobile World Congress News:  Behaviour-matched advertising on mobile

Although Medio runs a search engine and works hard on the user experience, it's really a data management company that any mobile application developer would like to partner with.

Medio's first priority is the operators. They want to be "on deck", as opposed to "off deck".

Medio's vice president of business development, Fred Owens, explains: "The simple distinction is this: Operator-controlled WAP pages are on-deck; non-operator-controlled WAP pages are off-deck.If a Medio application is installed on the phone, then it's operator-controlled and provides access to on-deck content and limited access to off-deck content.Off-deck could also be described as the mobile friendly web.

To be on-deck means that the application is a) supported, even branded, by the operator, and b) accessible from all phones.

Medio's core competence is to log, track and sort the information generated by the user's behaviour when searching the web. The data is stripped of user identification and logged to create search history, purchase history, browse history, preview history, etc.

Pooling the data, Medio creates "clustomers" – groups of users based on their history and location as well as criteria such as the time of the day (which would indicate whether they're at work, home, commuting between the two, etc.).

Is there a market for cross-application data mining, i.e. reselling data to an aggregator or buying it from another application provider?

According to Owens, yes, there is a market for such a product/service. "It's still too early to have a solid understanding of how the market will evolve, but it's clear that operators know they control some very meaningful data, and they're taking aggressive positions about ownership of this data.In this particular area, Medio expects that operators will do everything they can to create a meaningful business from the collection and distribution of this user data.They are unlikely to build the capabilities themselves, but will rely on third party technology companies to collect and package the data."

To ensure the data flow (and therefore the ad revenue), the key is to make the user experience so good that the user becomes addicted. There are multiple techniques for this, such as pre-caching content and supporting MML for the application to run smoothly on Brew or Java.

For instance, T-Mobile USA has an on-device portal (offline) with content preview, samples, movies and graphics. It's actually streamed to the device, but the access is simplified so the user can access it faster and get hooked more easily.

On their own, companies like Medio won't go very far. They need much more content and applications to get users to spend time online and generate data logs. Thus Medio is now partnering with companies like Telenav and NIM to add search to navigation and vice versa. All that's needed is a Brew or Java environment and an API.

The key players that companies like Medio and their navigation partner will need to work with are ad agencies.

"Advertising agencies will play an increasingly important role in the mobile market," concludes Owens, "The advertisers' holy grail is an intimate understanding of the consumer.Data collection systems and data mining capabilities provide that understanding. I can only image that at some point in the future the mobile advertiser or marketer will have a better understanding of a consumer's interests than his friends and family, and, in some cases, a better understanding than the consumer himself."

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