Digital Advertising

Greg Wester of Mobile Posse on The Future of Home Screen Marketing

greg2 Greg Wester is EVP, Sales of Mobile Posse, which provides software and services used to create and monetize best-in-class home and lock screen experiences combining mobile content, messaging and advertising. Mobile Posse is the first company to commercially launch graphically interactive home screen experiences in North America, and Gregory has been working there for almost 3 years. The Makegood recently spoke with Gregory about home scree marketing and why it is the last “beach front real estate,” of mobile advertising.

The Makegood: You just released your survey findings from, “The Ultimate Guide to the Next Big Wave in Mobile: The Home Screen.” Can you expand upon how this survey came together ad what steps it took to pull off?

It really came about through a set conversations involving Nielsen Research and Phoenix Marketing International…both leaders in their respective research domains. What became very clear was that that while the number of entrants with home screen “solutions” was soaring, no one—that’s right—no one, had pulled together or truly sought out to have industry-leading insights into this thing called the home screen and lock screen. It was that dearth that spawned the creation of this research report series. To do this report “right” we had to pull together passive meter data, online survey data and an assessment of current providers.

The Makegood: The report refers to the home screen as the last “beach front real estate” of mobile. What do you mean by that?

Sure, we use the real estate metaphor because it speaks to the raw undeveloped state of the 3” by 5” physical real estate of the mobile device. The battle for the mobile web was waged years ago. The battle over the app economy is being covered quite transparently in the media.  But the battle of the home screen is really just starting. Think about it, how is it possible that with such “smart” phones, our home and lock screens remain, well . . . for the most part, dumb and static. This won’t be the case in five years. No way. You might convince me that Mobile Posse doesn’t have the best platform (note: I doubt it), but you can’t convince me that our home screens aren’t in for radical enhancements.

The Makegood: Your company delivers, “the highest mobile engagement rates in the industry [b]y respecting consumers, and serving relevant messages during ‘found time’ only.” Can you explain how you strike the balance between home screen ads that are invasive and those that are relevant and wanted?

The home screen is no different than anything else. Give the consumer great, convenient and easy-to-use digital content and there’s going to be a way to incorporate advertising.  The trick is to put the consumer first. Honestly, traditional push notifications don’t put the consumer first. Either they interrupt you (that’s bad) or the notification from your wife, the missed text from your boss, and the reminder to buy milk all get weighted equally and get shoved into the same place (that’s bad, too). There’s insufficient value exchange to run advertising in those notifications. Give the user what they want, in exciting interactive formats, delivered when they’re doing nothing else, and not only will they tolerate it, but they’ll disproportionately engage with it as well.

The Makegood: What are some things that emerged in the survey that surprised you? And what didn’t surprise you?

Well, answering the second question first, it didn’t surprise me that consumers pick up their phones and look at their home screens so often. It was great to have that confirmed by so many sources, but we had seen some similar figures before. On the other hand, here are three things I was surprised about: 1) The number of companies that jumped into the home screen market this year. Recon Analytics did a timeline as part of the report, and the home screen literally exploded this year; 2) “Found Time” was so impactful—the research showed that people pick up their phones twice as often “just because” rather than to do a specific known task; 3) I expected to see home screen usage vary a lot more across different mobile segments… it did, but i was surprised that heavy gamers, heavy facebookers, etc. all had fairly similar home screen behaviors.

The Makegood: Now that this survey has been released, how do you plan to take over this “beach front real estate,” in the immediate future?

We’ve been quite fortunate with our success to date. We currently deliver more custom home screen messages than any provider in the space. Our goal is to continue that growth by customizing our Active Home Screen platform for more and more specific applications. We’re quite excited about marketplace reactions so far and hope to do some great development on some great beaches.

The Makegood: Thank you, Greg