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Visa, Siemens running interstitial ads in New York Times iPhone app

Financial services giant Visa and European engineering conglomerate Siemens AG are among the first brands running interactive interstitial advertising within the New York Times iPhone application.

Medialets created the expandable ad units, which encourage users to interact with the brands by taking advantage of functionality such as tilting, which is unique to the iPhone. Both Visa and Siemens were looking to drive brand awareness with the New York Times' desirable mobile demographics.

"Right now these interstitial ads from Visa and Siemens are running in our iPhone apps, which represents the only mobile platform on which we're capable of running rich-media units right now," said Robert Samuels, director of mobile products at the New York Times, New York.

"Eventually we want to offer these units for our mobile Web site as well," he said. "We've seen a couple million downloads of our application, which we consider a big success, and we wanted to be able to offer advertisers media-rich ads, and Medialets was a great partner for us.

"Their technology allows us to create ads that have input from the iPhone's unique characteristics such as the ability to tilt the phone and have it interact with the ad."

The reader is able to click within the application to access the information on each brand.

"Users can interact with the ads in ways that are not possible in a banner ad or a destination site with static content, as it's an interactive ad that conveys information for the agency and advertiser and it is an engaging ad for many of the readers as well," Mr. Samuels said.

Visa's full-screen mobile ad appearing in the New York Times' iPhone application carries the tagline "more people go with Visa" and the call-to-action suggests "let's go find some deals."

The tiltable mobile ad also features an offer from for 20 percent off flowers and gifts.

Siemens' full-screen in-application ad carries a simple call-to-action: "Find Answers. Click here."

New York Times application users that do click through are asked a series of questions such as "Can you wash water?" and are urged to "Click here to find out!"

Siemens is also advertising within Time Inc.'s Time Magazine application that was recently introduced for BlackBerry devices (see story).

Other campaigns powered by Medialets include apparel brand Dockers' shakable iPhone ad choreographed to leverage the power of mobile advertising to go far beyond SMS and banners (see story).

In addition to its iPhone applications, the New York Times has a mobile Web site that lets readers scan headlines and read the full text of all articles from that day's newspaper.

Mobile Web readers can also get stock quotes, market indices and charts, check movie showtimes in their area, as well as search the site for articles and real estate listings.

New York Times readers can also sign up for personal news alerts via SMS, e-mail and text articles to friends and save articles to a personal Times File.

The New York Times also offers podcasts, the Times Reader and a mobile crossword puzzle.

Readers can text keyword MOBILE to short code 698698 to get a text message with a link to the New York Times' mobile Web site.

The New York Times iPhone application is available in the App Store.

Through last month, the New York Times iPhone application had reached more than 2 million downloads. July saw more than 1 million monthly unqiue visitors.

The New York Times' mobile Web site in July attracted more than 40 million page views and nearly 2 million unique visitors.

As traditional revenue streams dry up, more and more savvy publishers are turning to mobile as a revenue-generator.

Visa is not a new-comer to the mobile space.

Last month, Visa entered into a strategic alliance with Monitise plc to facilitate the delivery of Visa mobile payments and related services to consumers worldwide (see story).

Visa also launched the world's first commercial mobile payments service for point-of-sale transactions using Near Field Communications technology branded as payWave (see story).

The company is working with the GSMA to advance the delivery of mobile financial services worldwide (see story).

"We'll work with a brand to create whatever rich-media ad they want to, whatever suits their content," Mr. Samuels said. "Whether it be a travel advertiser or a fashion advertiser, we can work with them and their agency to create equally compelling campaigns for them.

"We'll work on creating more and more creative campaigns using the iPhone's unique functionality," he said.