Verve Wireless execs: How to launch a successful mobile strategy

Mobile is about local audiences and local content, and it’s the fastest growing platform – both great news for news publishers, executives from local mobile advertising firm Verve Wireless told the Blinder Group and Suburban Newspapers of America’s Revenue Leadership Summit in Chicago today.

The top four uses for mobile are news, traffic, sports and weather, said Bill Gannon, general manager of local sales for Verve. “Local will own mobile,” he said. “Today, eyes are on the phone, not ears … In the next two and a half years, more people will access the Internet with a wireless device than with [a PC].”

Art Howe, chairman and co-founder of Verve Wireless, gave attendees a list of 10 essential steps to launching a mobile strategy:

1. Understand Mobile will be the number 1 screen for news and advertising.

“This is happening much, much, much faster than you think,” he said. “By early next year, more people will be accessing your digital content with a mobile device than with the desktop.” More mobile devices are being sold today than personal computers, and publishers must act on this opportunity to connect with users.

2. Understand mobile is not “Internet Lite.”

You need apps, and the cost of creating them is going down. Mobile functionality is different than accessing content via a computer, and that means

3. Make revenue generation priority #1.
In the early days of the Internet, revenue was not made a top priority, and if news publishers are to succeed, they can’t repeat those mistakes.

4. Appoint a mobile manager.
This person must be at the director level or higher, have access to the publisher, and be able to obtain cooperation of Internet technology staff and the digital advertising team. “It’s not just a part-time diversion of the Web guy. It can’t be,” he explained.

5. Don’t try this at home.
Publishers must serve audiences and advertisers, not technology. Hire developers who can do it better.

6. Develop a strategy.
Make sure your strategy encompasses all devices – you can’t focus on iPhones, iPads or Android devices only. You also need your content – video, photos, text, etc. – to work well on each device it is viewed on.

7. Offer more than just headlines.
When a lot of mobile sites started off, they were pretty primitive. Today we can make it an experience for audiences. You don’t have to go tablet crazy today, because it’s still a fairly small market. Howebver, advertising is very high value, and you will have to do it. “Frankly, it’s a gift to publishers,” he said.

8. Above all, keep it local.

You want to be a credible reference for all things local. It’s good for you and your advertiser, because it gives audiences what they want, when they want it.

9. Include local advertising.
Because mobile is all about local, selling local audiences to local advertisers is important.

10. Set mobile goals and train for success.
Newsmedia staffs are excited to reach audiences, and at the same time give those audiences and advertisers what they’re looking for. Great training will make for great successes.

Image: Verve partners with local media providers across the United States

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