Is mobile media about search or apps? Depends who you ask. In a panel session at paidContent Mobile, Tricia Duryee, editor for paidContent sister site mocoNews, put the question to Google’s director of emerging platforms Mike Steib: “Steve Jobs says that people don’t use mobile search; they use apps. What do you say to that?” Steib, laughing and shaking his head, responded, “Does Steve Jobs sit on panels and hear what Mike Steib has to say about mobile phones?” “Bullsh*t! That’s what I say to that.”
Banner blindness: To Steib’s fellow panelist, Rachel Pasqua, director for the Mobile Group at Hearst’s iCrossing, feels that apps, in particular Apple’s iAds mobile ad system, could be the cure to “banner blindness” — an affliction she readily admits to suffering from — and advancing targeting. “I probably don’t notice 99.9 percent of what I see. But the thing that makes iAds so promising is the use of rich media ads that give me what I want. It’s going to lead to things that are more valuable to me and my clients.”
Not an iAd-only world: Asked what his thoughts on iAd are, Steib was complimentary, to a point. “If someone is passionate about the mobile space, it’s great. I think mobile will evolve in a way that’s not different from the desktop. There will be premium ads and lower prices. If you say to a publisher — the iAds monetize at a $25 CPM, I think they would like to take that. But if the only choice was an iAd, that would be bad.”
WAP goes away?: Asked for thoughts on where mobile content and ways of delivering it are headed, Steib tried to end with some “controversy,” opining, “Apps are a bridge technology. The idea that in the early days of the internet that I would have downloaded Weather.com and then would have to upgrade each time, seems like an unnecessary step for a consumer. In the end, it all goes back to the singular web.” Eric Johnson, EVP, Multimedia Sales, ESPN (NYSE: DIS), said that he thinks that there will continue to be both and that the separation in content that works between the two will determine their evolution.
“People are using about 10 apps in a given week, which makes me think of the early days of cable, when people only watched a handful of channels. The space will get a lot larger and consumers’ appetites for that content will catch up,” he said.
“Is WAP still going?” said John Trimble, chief revenue officer of Pandora Media, kidded, before adding, “I think the most important thing is that your content is device agnostic. That said, we don’t support a wap site.”