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March - 2008 - issue > CEO Spot Light
Mobile TV – An advertiser’s dream ready for prime time
Manu Mehta
Monday, March 3, 2008
Mobile TV is no longer taking tentative baby steps. Just the mention of this technology is enough to light up the eyes of advertising executives along Madison Avenue. Moving beyond the confines of traditional TV advertising —where one message is communicated to many on a shared entertainment device sitting in a living room—mobile TV advertising holds the promise to initiate and maintain a highly personal, one-on-one dialog to a plethora of non-shared devices like cell phones, smart phones and PDAs.

With nearly 4.5 million mobile TV viewers worldwide today and over 150 million total predicted within four years, it’s no wonder that advertisers are taking notice. Watching a feature film or an hour-long episode of “24” on a mobile device may not be everybody’s cup of tea in 2008, but it is becoming a way of life to an emerging demographic of young consumers literally raised since childhood with fingers wrapped around various mobile devices. And for more and more people in other demographic groups, the concept of “video snacking” — i.e., interim video breaks to watch TV news and entertainment clips anytime, anywhere — is becoming more common.

Mobile TV advertisers already have a willing audience at their doorstep. Over 90 percent of mobile users would prefer to view advertising rather than pay extra for ad-free content. However to harness the incredible opportunity to deliver one-on-one advertisements to consumers, there are two hurdles to overcome. First is the issue of privacy. Most consumers do not want advertisers or service operators to know their demographic profile or what they choose to watch. And the second issue is the lack of an actual one-on-one connection. Mobile TV is based on a technology similar to a traditional TV mass broadcast where a mobile device tunes to one of multiple channels being broadcast and is not like the Internet where a one-on-one connection is established between the viewer and the service operator.

Technology is now available that enables personalization and targeting on a one-way broadcast. It kills both birds (above issues) with one stone. A mobile device can track viewer data and use it to predict viewer’s demographics. The viewer data remains on the mobile device and is used to present content from a broadcast stream or from content previously downloaded into mobile device’s internal storage during off-hours. Thereby, delivering targeted content while ensuring viewer privacy.

Operators that deliver targeted solutions that solve these two issues will make an advertiser’s dream come true and become the new heroes of Madison Avenue.

The author is President and CEO of Metabyte, Inc.
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