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Mark Challinor on Developing a Successful Mobile Business

In the run-up to AOP's Mobile Monetisation forum on Wednesday 24 April, Mark Challinor, Director of Mobile Platforms, Telegraph Media Group MarkC(TMG) offers his insight into how TMG has stayed ahead of the mobile ad game and what other publishers can do realise better returns. Mark, who has over 20 years' media experience, holding senior commercial roles at Trinity Mirror, Associated Newspapers and TMG, also serves as International VP of INMA - The International Newsmedia Marketing Association. Despite an explosive mobile advertising market, very few publishers are realising significant returns on their mobile traffic.  To what degree do you think oversupply of inventory is to blame? It's a number of things really: education about the opportunities for advertisers and agencies; industry budgets which don't yet relate to the huge number of mobile eyeballs; a lack of effective mobile ad formats; and an oversupply of inventory coupled with low sell through rates. How have you bucked this trend at the Telegraph?  
We fully recognised the situation as I've outlined above and have set about transforming our offerings to match this new world. That's why we have the likes of an MPU for mobile web format (the first publisher to offer this above the fold), our award winning Cascade unit which works across mobile, online and tablet as well as full page interactive advertising capability on iPad. We continue to examine new developments as the market moves too.  What could publishers be doing better to start increasing their mobile returns?
Above all, have a comprehensive mobile strategy. Don't dabble. Those that dabble will usually be disappointed by the results, and therefore not return to the space. Have a clear roadmap and a plan to develop and embrace a whole suite of mobile services, apps and offerings. Then, make it all really easy to buy.  We are now seeing the benefits of such an approach with mobile revenues increasing exponentially as a result. How should publishers be structuring their businesses to focus attention on mobile revenue generation?
We all talk constantly of the nirvana of true platform agnostic, mobile services but we need to raise the awareness of mobile platforms by educating internally and externally about the opportunities they bring, as vast as they are. The International Newsmedia Association (www.inma.org) 2013 Outlook Report (which I will refer to in my AOP seminar presentation), says that 86% of the planet's population will have an internet connected mobile device by 2020. Are we readying ourselves for the explosion to come? What we also really need to consider is structuring our offerings to make mobile really easy for advertisers to buy. Think of the Google 'one click' purchase mechanic and think of Apple's easy-to-buy model. They should be lessons for us all.  What is your view of mobile networks and are they likely to further drive down price?
Ad networks provide a valuable service for publishers and advertisers. We certainly value what the likes of Yoc do for us. What's important though is to create a point of difference with the service they offer e.g restricting sales of premium to just internal sales teams could be one approach. What do you see as the main trends emerging in this sector?  And how can publishers best prepare?
There will be more and better ad formats coming, more personalised/tailored services, more contextualised, location based services and better measurement. Together they all provide a springboard to a new paradigm in mobile that is coming over the next few years. As mobile traffic continues to rise significantly, we have to be ready to ensure our audiences can experience our content anytime, anywhere and in a format they choose. Only then will we all truly reap the benefits.