Emerging TechnologyMobileA new front door for mobile content discovery: What it means for advertisers

A new front door for mobile content discovery: What it means for advertisers

Next generation mobile content discovery will bring back the “front door," thanks to prolific mobile use & the stale "last in, first out" model for UX today.

The next generation of mobile content discovery is going to recreate the front door to the internet.

Carriers and phone manufacturers will innovate native device experiences that will put content in appealing places for subscribers to find and enjoy the things they love.

This will not only create two classes of content experiences (e.g., one that is frictionless, serving content up at the “front door;” versus one where content has to be actively sought), but also two classes of mobile ad inventory – one with premium ways for advertisers to reach their desired targets.

For those old enough to remember dial-up internet, this may sound familiar

The first generation of Internet access had a front door: AOL’s portal. In those early days, when your modem connected you “online,” the first thing you saw was whatever AOL wanted you to see. There were curated headlines and a few ads. The efficacy of the brands included on that first page was phenomenal.

As the web became more accessible via direct access to the web, that concentrated “front door” went away. Every ISP had their own little front door. Internet sessions started and ended everywhere. Then Google came around and made a popular search “front door” that was literally a blank page.

But, first still matters

Brands still want the first page of the newspaper, the first ad after halftime during the Super Bowl, or the first result in Google Search. And brands would still want to be the first things seen in mobile displays. if it were available to them.

The next generation of mobile content discovery using native device experiences is creating a new era and will bring back the “front door” in a huge way.

There are two big reasons why this is happening:

  1. Consumer behavior: Thanks to unlimited data plans, smartphones are the go-to device for casual media consumption. We use our mobile devices everywhere, unlocking them more than 80 times a day — half the time with no real app or website in mind. But that doesn’t mean our smartphones shouldn’t have something in mind for us.
  2. The current “last in, first out” (LIFO) content discovery UI/UX is stale: For 12 years, all our smartphones have done at unlock is give us the last app we were in rather than starting to recommend the next thing we might want to see.

This is an unrealized opportunity – for now. The next generation of mobile UI will include content discovery that will make it easier to serve our changed consumer behavior.

With it, a concentration of new front doors will be created wherein first will both matter and become incredibly desirable to advertisers. Apple News, Google Discover, Samsung’s Bixby, Taboola/ZTE, T-Mobile’s Metrozone, as well as other device-centric content discovery solutions, are already making this a reality.

The front door opportunity is real

In 2017, Phoenix Marketing International conducted a “First Dibs” study that showed that the current “front door” (or “first screen” as they termed it) on smartphones does not offer much value to consumers. The study further showed that consumers wanted a new front door experience, and when presented with it, they liked it. As a follow up to this study, Phoenix found that social media giants and content providers alike benefit greatly when found first. They found that almost 1/5th (19%) of the total time-spent on Facebook was due to it simply being found on unlock because of the outdated LIFO UI/UX that is currently on smartphones.

Phoenix also tested the impact of three different types or sources content discovery:

  • Mobile social: Publisher content engaged with from a social media feed
  • Mobile web: Publisher content engaged with while consuming other web content
  • Device “front-door”: Publisher content engaged with from device-centric content discovery that dynamically served content on unlock.

Phoenix found that Device Front Door- discovery delivered results 2-5x better downstream monetization than web- or social- content discovery.

More recent measures of Google’s efforts on their “stock” Android devices also support the impact of device-based discovery.  In August of this year, measurement firm Chartbeat posted research showing that publisher traffic from Android’s default news app Google News has more than doubled since May.

The bottom line

As much as media and our ways of consuming it change over the years, there are some universal, unchanging truths. The front page still matters, and it’s not just a matter of prestige – it drives better results than other placements. New device-based UI/UXs from those that can and DO get busy evolving smartphone design (e.g., O/S developers, smartphone OEMs, and wireless carriers) will concentrate content discovery and create more valuable experiences for publishers and advertisers.

The future holds an opportunity where new UIs capitalize on the device itself to create a new front door. Users, carriers, OEMs, publishers and advertisers all stand to gain by stepping through.

Greg Wester is Chief Marketing Officer at Mobile Posse.

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