Mobile is the heart of value-added services

By Mark Challinor

Media Futures Consultancy

London, United Kingdom


Media companies have long been at the forefront of trialling mobile media tools to deliver value-added services (VAS). Now, with global ad revenues dropping, we are now taking VAS much more seriously.

VAS that can be propelled by mobile services such as direct-carrier billing (DCB; i.e. charging directly to your mobile phone invoice) have long been touted as something the publishing and media world could and should leverage. And we have seen many either trying it or expressing an interest in doing so. Additionally, global traditional media is now looking to tap into the increasingly mobile, and sometimes increasingly fickle, reader base.

Direct-carrier billing has made it easier for media organisations to offer value-added services
Direct-carrier billing has made it easier for media organisations to offer value-added services

According to research into DCB use for VAS, undertaken by mobile services provider Mobilesquared, publishing currently only accounts for about 8% of VAS spend, but it is increasing and there are some key offerings that are making it happen.

VAS alters depending on who you ask.

What is “value add” for existing readers? If you subscribe already, do I give you more or is the value add a service to deliver new readers to the publication?

Both require slightly different approaches, but the key thing is they add value.

Of course, news media has long offered added value with reader offers, holiday deals, products tailored to readership, and more, from which the publisher takes a cut. But today, with data, Artificial Intelligence, and mobile, how this happens is getting smarter.

Understanding what readers want can be now done on an almost personal basis. And now with readers being increasingly “mobile smart,” it is creating a range of new, monetisable services that can be delivered through DCB to pay for snackable content. Axate is a good example of one company working with publishers across the globe to link news media payments to mobile.

Podcasts and downloadable content is ideal for mobile and increasingly popular as it is perfect for downloading, can be personalised, and can be sponsored.

Similarly, newsletters can be turned into a monthly (even paid-for) service that adds value to the perhaps free or freemium main news content. Again, this can be personalised on mobile.

Web sites monetising social media is another area of VAS interest for publishers. Here, of course, it may not necessarily be just about money. Much of this may well be “monetised” for data rather than dollars or pounds. News media has huge amounts of first-party data, and this is what now really underpins the VAS model.

This is where couponing comes in. We are still in the early days for truly exploiting the mobile-based VAS model, but many companies are already trying.

While the dream is to deliver personalised mobile home pages and individually targeted experiences, one area in which this is working is couponing. A few media houses in Norway have been working on this for some time now.

Almost all e-commerce sites today feature an “enter discount code” box at checkout, so readers go looking for one. If those discount vouchers are on your site, then these are potentially new users coming to you. One example of this is The London Evening Standard’s offerings.

This is one of many media companies worldwide now offering such a revenue-, data-, and value-added service.

For this reason, coupons are starting to become important to media. They require less work and attract a new audience to the media. The service brings in and targets shoppers via SEO/SEM who are not currently readers.

In short, there are many brands that want to boost sales and find new customers They do that through coupon discounts. Affiliate marketing companies can link these coupon “ads” to publishers, effectively providing the link between the brand and publishers.

All the publisher has to do is create a sub-domain taking a cut and potentially obtaining a new audience that may subscribe or engage further from there. The publisher can then add in more VAS such as dating and reader offers once there.

It offers big potential going forward for mobile.

In my opinion, the future in this area lies in voice-activated and geo-fenced coupons that can help link media and drive readers to your advertisers’ stores. Once again, mobile provides the gateway to new or enhanced services for publishers. Be sure you have your commercial team investigating the possibilities here. The opportunities can be huge.

About Mark Challinor

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