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Carrier First-Screen Solutions Can Disrupt the Duopoly: Q&A with Gregory Wester, Mobile Posse

first screen

As smartphones have become extensions of our hands for up-to-date content at all times, there is an opportunity for carriers to put relevant content, and advertising, in front of their subscribers, giving them an even better user experience. Gregory Wester (pictured below), SVP marketing and business development, Mobile Posse, talks about first-screen solutions that carriers can put into place to go up against the duopoly, providing more options, and leading to a fair marketplace.

ExchangeWire: What does Mobile Posse do and what is Proactive Content discovery?

Gregory Wester: We’re on a mission to make the smartphone more useful for today’s on-the-go feed-hungry mobile user. We provide carriers and OEM’s a turnkey software platform, called First Feed, that transforms unlocking a smartphone into a new curated personal experience for their subscribers. First Feed helps carriers drive increased subscriber retention and generates new revenue through targeted mobile advertising.

Mobile Posse has capitalised on three key industry realities:

  1. The way that consumers are using their phones has fundamentally changed
  2. The smartphone unlock experience hasn’t fundamentally changed
  3. Carriers and OEMs can improve the unlock experience and profit significantly by doing so.

The smartphone experience is largely the same as when the device was invented 10 years ago – there’s a lock screen, apps, and homescreen. The first app found after unlock is merely the last you used. It doesn’t matter if you used the app five minutes ago or five hours ago, it’s still what’s presented first. This misses a valuable opportunity to engage today’s on-the-go, content-hungry mobile consumer.

Proactive Content Discovery targets the consumer by anticipating when to move their last app to the background and replace it with an engaging content experience. By intelligently timing the presentation of interesting content, we reduce the frequency that people immediately close the app they first see to look for something else, by as much as two-thirds.

What is the value of mobile’s First Screen for consumers and advertisers?

Until recently, the more you used your smartphone, the more you paid because of expensive data plans and overage fees. To avoid losing your shirt, you’d think twice about going online with your phone, and you’d think a lot about what you wanted to do once online. Now, most people have fixed cost unlimited data plans.

Two things have happened as a result: 1) We pick up our phones a lot more, and 2) We pick them up without knowing what app we want to use – we just want ‘something’.

We now unlock our phones 70+ times per day. Half of those unlocks we want to ‘graze’ on news while waiting in lines, between TV commercials, and while killing time on Facebook. At the same time, the median mobile session length is now a quick 30 seconds.

This behavioural evolution, people looking for something interesting and having only 30 seconds, is the foundation of Proactive Content Discovery. Our intelligently timed presentation of snackable content improves the smartphone experience by giving consumers what they’re looking for with no fuss, no searching, no caching.

The benefit to advertisers is that engaging consumers who aren’t mid-task is easier and more effective. We proved this recently in working with our partner Taboola. From our First Screen solution, we drive significant volumes of traffic to several of their publishing partners. These partners looked at the revenue they generated from our referral traffic and compared it the downstream revenue generated from social- and web-referral traffic. First Feed referral traffic generated downstream RPMs a stunning 2.5-3x that of social and web referral traffic.

How are Facebook and Google dominating the first screen?

Facebook and Google dominate the first screen because they are the most common last app seen – hence becoming the first app seen on unlock. Facebook’s newsfeed instantly appears on device First Screens 6.7% of all unlocks, while Google’s Chrome Browser appears at 5.5%, and Google appears at 4.6%. No other app appears even 2% of the the time. Additionally, from 2016 to 2017, the time spent on Facebook coming from it appearing on unlock rose from 15% to 18%. This is their true ‘unlock advantage’. The strength of the unlock advantage for these industry giants is trending up, showing that that the mobile first screen is truly a survival of the fittest.

Mobile Posse

Gregory Wester, SVP Marketing & Business Development, Mobile Posse

How can a better first-screen solution help mitigate some of the challenges faced by advertisers and content providers because of the duopoly?

You have already seen that Facebook has put restrictions on content providers and advertisers. The issue that they both face is that the power and reach of Facebook and Google still make them the best way to get eyeballs from the people they want. A first-screen solution would be the only solution that could supersede people’s journey to Google and Facebook after unlock to find content – thus providing more options and competition. Our market estimations show that a carrier first-screen solution would rank a solid third to Google and Facebook in terms of mobile ad revenue. As a result, advertisers and content providers could have better reporting standards, better relationships, and a fair marketplace. This would be a good thing for everyone – publishers, advertisers, subscribers, and carriers alike.

What can carriers do about it and how can carriers interrupt the duopoly on mobile? What does the future of the first screen look like?

Carriers are amongst the few companies that have the opportunity to change the first screen and disrupt the Google and Facebook duopoly. It’s a huge opportunity, but the device manufacturers and O/S developers – who also can influence the device unlock experience – are also chasing this same multibillion dollar opportunity. Years from now our children – whose phones will automagically unlock to valuable experiences and recommendations – will look at our circa 2017 smartphones and laugh.