Today SessionM announced the launch of its new mobile platform. Founded by Quattro Wireless co-founder Lars Albright, SessionM addresses the problem of audience engagement with consumers while offering new ad experiences for brands. We spoke with Bill Clifford, Chief Revenue Officer at SessionM, about the launch of the platform.
The Makegood: Bill, today SessionM is coming out of stealth mode and announcing its new platform. What does this mean for the industry?
As mobile graduates from being the 3rd screen to the 1st screen for publishers and brands, getting consumers to engage and keep them engaged via their mobile devices is the industry’s primary focus right now. Publishers and app developers are challenged with getting content to stand out in a crowded marketplace, and the cost of acquiring a user is at a record high. Publishers will typically invest to create a great app, spend marketing dollars to drive installs, then after an initial surge to the top of the charts, the audience will fall off a cliff as users move on to the next thing.
We’re providing publishers with a platform that is proven to increase user engagement, retention, and monetization. Of course, the monetization piece doesn’t really kick in until brand advertisers see an opportunity to connect with consumers in a meaningful way and drive them down the path to purchase via mobile media spend. Right now, banner ads are still the primary conduit for delivering an ad experience to consumers and we’re focused on changing that.
The Makegood: What role do game mechanics play in getting consumers to engage in a medium like mobile that has historically been challenged when it comes to brand advertising?
Zynga isn’t the behemoth that it is because they are masters of the art of story-telling. They’ve mastered the science of engagement. They recognize that people are hard wired to collect things, complete tasks, master systems, and gain status within a social construct. They understand how feedback loops and rewards can compel users to engage more deeply with their content. These mechanics are going beyond games to become pervasive as evidenced by the success of companies like FourSquare, consumer products like Nike Plus, and marketing programs like Amex Rewards.
We’ve figured out a way to harness them into a platform that can be embedded across the mobile app ecosystem to ignite consumer engagement. The platform not only integrates achievements, points, status and rewards into mobile content experiences but it also opens up a new context for delivering video and other brand experiences to consumers without annoying or interrupting them. We are creating a paradigm where people seek out mobile advertising and choose to engage because it is fun and rewarding.
The Makegood: SessionM has an impressive list of launch partners including publishers like Viacom, Glam Media, Fox Sports, Demand Media and The Weather Channel. What kind of reach will you have and are you open to working with other publishers?
We are obviously thrilled to be working with these high caliber publishers, and we’re looking forward to rolling out across their apps on iOS and Android in the coming weeks. Our short term focus has been to build a network of short tail partners who have amazing content that can easily be amplified by our platform. We are working with a long list of publishers and developers in every category – sports, news, utility, entertainment, games, etc. and are on track to rapidly hit 50 million monthly uniques. The platform is scalable, simple to integrate, and is open to any developer to embed within their apps via a self service portal.
The Makegood: How does SessionM make money?
Our platform is free for publishers and developers to use. We sell advertising across our publisher network and share revenues with them. For larger companies who have dedicated sales teams, we also enable them to sell into the inventory we’re creating within their apps, and we participate in those revenues as well. Finally, we’re planning to open up mobile commerce revenue streams by bridging the gap between a brand impression and a transaction on mobile devices.
The Makegood: What role will agencies, both media and creative, have in SessionM’s new platform? Are there developer tools for them?
We’ll be doing business directly with media agencies while evangelizing the new canvas we’re opening up to creative agencies. Media agencies will be able to buy engagement at scale across our network, while taking advantage of sophisticated targeting capabilities. The tools we’ve created are primarily for publishers and developers, with the goal of making the platform as easy as possible to integrate and utilize. We also give publishers access to reporting tools that will help them understand their audience, improve segmentation and more effectively promote new content. Down the road, we’ll look to give both media buyers and creatives access to tools that will make this more of a self service platform for the buy side.
The Makegood: Thanks, Bill.