Mobile Monetization: A Publisher’s Perspective

Recently, I was a panelist at Netbiscuits World U.S 2011 Partner Day for Mobile Monetization that showcased the power of mobile advertising and how Netbiscuits enables this experience for their partners. The day was filled with big names like CBS and Google, who all hammered home the core theme that mobile really is here and is truly happening now!

Since WhitePages has had a successful mobile monetization track record for many years, I was asked to provide a publisher’s perspective on the topic. Here is an overview of the key themes that emerged:

Targeting and Scale

With the rise in smart phone device ownership, marketers are allocating more of their budgets for mobile advertising than ever before. From a display standpoint it really has been the year of mobile, and it surely is ramping up as marketers look to partners with targeting and scale.

Where, What, When

At WhitePages, our mobile display advertising model is monetized by utilizing our unique capability to serve ads based on “where” the person is located, “what” they are searching for (biz category), and “when” they are searching, without storing privacy protected information.

This allows for enhanced targeting and personalization with the ability for geo, location, device, and time of day

WhitePages' Reverse Phone iOS App

relevancy in specific campaigns. These solutions provide greater immediacy and drive interaction with our audience. Additionally, the geo targeting with scale that we provide offers marketers the ability to take advantage of the localized media they are looking for when structuring their buys.

Subscription Models

In addition to premium display, we are also able to monetize our mobile products by applying subscription models. On the panel, I spoke about how we are able to leverage cross platform, rich media high impact ads and targeting. I also discussed how mobile allows publishers to monetize in ways unique to the mobile experience. One of the fastest growing products and an all-time popular feature here at WP, is our “reverse phone lookup”, in which we are able to charge $1.99 to the cellphone bill if we have the number in our database. The mobile device allows for new revenue streams by utilizing standalone features, and offering them as individual apps or products, such as our popular Caller ID app.

The Tracking Challenge

One of the challenges we’re currently facing as an industry and what I believe is holding back brands from fully embracing mobile advertising, is a lack of third party tracking, performance metrics and analytics. Digital advertising has given us the ability to track delivery, but without the ability to implement tracking cookies and back end metrics for performance, it becomes difficult for agencies to justify spend to their brands.

The Game Changer

A key theme that was discussed throughout the day was the emergence of tablets. I echoed this sentiment as it pertains to advertising and monetization, and ultimately, how it will affect brand marketers. Because tablets have a larger screen size (which allows for more ad real estate), monetization will be impacted by an increase in cost for display ads, and subsequently, an increased revenue opportunity.  Additionally, faster networks and 4G speed allows for richer ad experiences and cross platform opportunities more similar to what we run online.

For additional perspectives on the key themes discussed above, check out the full videos from Netbiscuits World 2011 here.

Ad Monetization on WhitePages Caller ID v.3.4

In October 2008, WhitePages launched its first Android caller ID app to seamlessly identify unknown incoming calls using our database of phone numbers. Because this application works as an integrated feature of an Android’s core phone call functionality, the traditional banner advertising real estate that we usually have didn’t exist. As a successful ad supported online and mobile publisher this application presented us with some interesting ad monetization challenges.

For the benefit of our advertising partners and our customers, we initially decided hold off on including ads until we had perfected the technology and UI to create a great experience for our customers, and had grown a sizable audience base to give our advertisers desired reach.

When our first 2 releases of this app were met with customer acclaim, rapidly increasing downloads, and an ad opportunity with over 25 million ad impressions, we knew it was time to determine the right ad strategy for version 3.4. As the Director of Mobile Monetization, I worked closely with the product team to come up with a solution that worked for both our customers and advertisers.

By analyzing the beginning-to-end call flow, and our customer’s needs, we decided to include a post call screen that allows the user to add the previously unknown caller to their contacts. This feature is great for our customers because it allows them to easily save missing numbers and other useful contact information such as address and company etc. and it’s great for our advertisers because we now have a prime spot to place a mobile display ad banner to reach our coveted audience. This ad placement, coupled with a brand logo on the incoming call screen gives advertisers incredible exposure to millions of loyal, tech savvy adults on one of the most forceful marketing platforms today.

Over the past three years the growth of our mobile applications has exceeded our expectations and we’re excited to offer brand sponsored apps and an integrated ad experience for our partners. Each day we continue to innovate and build additional ad opportunities, mobile app integration and stay at the forefront of this rapidly growing medium.

Tracking the Mobile Advertising Storm: WhitePages Prepares For the Future

GigaOm’s prediction that 2010 will be the year of M&A in Mobile Advertising is certainly spot on — just look at Google/AdMob, Apple/Quattro, and Opera/AdMarvel for proof. This flurry of acquisitions points to the optimistic future explosion of mobile advertising. But how do publishers prepare to compete in the mobile ad space to get their share of mobile advertising dollars?

Here at WhitePages, we recently made a big change in our mobile advertising strategy by launching a new ad serving platform that will allow us to take advantage of the ever-changing world of mobile marketing. We know that the mobile advertising climate will continue to spin, but the basic needs of our advertisers will remain the same: to reach a relevant audience and generate a positive ROI.

With over four years of experience in mobile advertising under our belt, we decided to play it safe, conducting a thorough evaluation of the many solutions that are available in the marketplace. I am excited to announce that we have decided to partner with Ringleader Digital as our new ad server. We’re confident that we have found the best ad serving platform available, providing us with a competitive edge and helping us to meet the growing demands of our ad partners.

In making a platform change, we focused on three key capabilities:


Even in a nascent mobile advertising marketplace, displaying the right ad at the right time to drive return on an advertiser’s investment still holds true. While we, along with most major players, have the standard targeting capabilities like Device, Carrier and Daypart, what really sets us apart is our extensive Geo and Contextual targeting capabilities.

...on the results page they are shown an advertisement for Marriott.

When a user searches for Hilton in New York, NY...

WhitePages Mobile users visit our site and applications to lookup location-based information about people and businesses on the go. This gives us the ability to offer our advertisers a significant amount of ad inventory that is geo-targetable by city, state and zip code.

In addition, we offer contextually relevant display ad placements in real time based on keyword/category searches in our business listings. In other words, our solution is awesome! It allows our advertisers to conquest targeting, to offer coupons, to drive in-store traffic; and to stay top of mind…the list goes on. Real-time relevancy is what consumers want and advertisers crave, so it was a top requirement when we were in the process of selecting the right ad serving partner. It’s a win-win situation: a better experience for our users and more robust targeting for our advertisers – this is not your average “ringtones for all” approach!


Many advertisers are reluctant to dive into mobile as the tracking is not as sophisticated as what they’re used to on the Web. Ringleader’s MediaStamp technology, an alternative to the “mobile cookie”, gives WhitePages the ability to track unique users and frequency cap on most devices across sessions. We’re also excited to offer action tracking, a feature which allows our advertisers to track conversions on their Web sites and optimize their WhitePages plan more effectively. WhitePages makes mobile advertising easy with extensive reporting, and even allows for third-party tracking via the advertiser’s existing ad server.

Mobile Expertise

The mobile ecosystem is growing rapidly and can be difficult to navigate. With so many companies jumping into the space, each offering a number of services, we wanted a partner that was exclusively focused on ad serving. Ringleader brings years of experience and cutting-edge technology to the table that will help WhitePages remain an innovator in the mobile advertising space.

We are very excited to see the results of our Ringleader implementation and are looking forward to a year full of many returns for our mobile advertisers! Have a question about the benefits of mobile advertising?  I’d love to hear from you…