Fox News Establishes Mobile Site, Licenses Ad Tech

Fox News is establishing its mobile presence in a three-pronged approach using both on-deck and off-deck deliveries. To bring in an ad component, it licensed ad serving capabilities through Third Screen Media’s MADX platform.

The three strategies — video, audio and mobile Internet — address the way consumers currently use their handsets to access the Internet and news in general, and where things are going. “We think video will be big down the road, audio is big now, and with WAP sites, the penetration is increasing on a monthly basis,” said Fox News VP of Digital Media Sales and Business Development Jeremy Steinberg.

For audio, Fox News created #FOXN on Cingular Wireless, a live audio channel mobile users can access by dialing #foxn (#3696) to listen to the live broadcast or get on-demand headlines for $2.99 per month. “The great thing about it is that everybody with a cell phone has audio, it’s available to over 60 million users,” said Steinberg. He said talks have begun to bring in sponsors for the service and allow free access for users.

Other on-deck relationships focus on video. Customers of Cingular and Amp’d Mobile have access to on-demand video, much of which is created exclusive for mobile. Sprint airs the Fox News Channel live, and Steinberg said there are about a million subscribers, or more, watching the linear feed.

In September, Fox News launched its site but only recently began promoting it. To monetize the site, the publisher licensed the MADX platform from Third Screen Media. Fox News is actively selling the site, however the Royal Bank of Scotland is currently the exclusive sponsor.

The decision to license TSM’s Web-based mobile ad management and delivery platform is not unique for a publisher of Fox News’ size. Publishers including Reuters and the Weather Channel have licensed with TSM rather than joining the network. Reuters licensed TSM’s MADX platform in December of 2005. The publisher is selling pre-roll units on its mobile service in July this year, said Joe Cohen, global director of mobile products at Reuters Media.

TSM’s CMO Jeff Janer sees similarities between mobile Internet and how the Internet evolved. “It is just the speed at which the larger media companies are adopting this internally,” said Janer. “With the Internet, you had the DoubleClicks representing the large media companies for a while before they brought it in house.”

Across the Third Screen Media network, impressions have grown from 35 million per month this time last year, to over 175 million impressions per month currently.

Fox News will be the exclusive seller for its dot mobi site. “We’re on the streets selling and dot mobi together, it makes sense having one sales force,” said Steinberg.

The sales team at Fox News has seen interest from advertisers, and Steinberg said his team is working on unique opportunities for sponsorship and advertising to add down the road. He said, “Video advertising is not a huge market right now, it’s going to grow.”

Mobile video is also on the radar on the agency side. Recently, Jeff Lanctot, VP of media at Avenue A / Razorfish, told ClickZ he views mobile with a healthy skepticism, at least domestically. “Display ads on WAP sites are overrated,” he said. “Mobile video is interesting from an advertiser’s perspective.”

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