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Ad:tech keynote: Is mobile Web new marketing tool or extension?

NEW YORK ? One of the biggest problems facing mobile for media brands and advertisers is the differentiation between WAP and the PC Web.

Jonathan Miller, chief digital officer and chairman/CEO of the digital media group at News Crop., New York, said in a keynote address at ad:tech New York that marketers and brands do not know how to treat the mobile space. Mr. Miller also said that premium content may have more of a place on the mobile platform.

?Is mobile Web a derivative of online Web or is it a new beast entirely?? Mr. Miller said. ?Do the behaviors look the same?

?We don?t know that one yet,? he said.

Mr. Miller said that he is not sure how marketers will treat applications, because it is not in the mobile Web browser and they should be considered something different.

Rupert Murdoch?s News Corp. is the second-largest media conglomerate in the world and owns Fox and several newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.

Until the mobile Web is figured out, Mr. Miller said that he is being cautious, because if it is a new medium, then what does it mean and what can marketers do with it?

After a trip to Asia, Mr. Miller said that he was impressed at the usage of mobile Web in Japan, China and Korea.

?Mobile Web is the Web,? Mr. Miller said. ?It?s the way people are accessing the Internet and in the next two years there will be more people on broadband on their mobile device than people in the United States.?

Mr. Miller said that the thing he likes most about the mobile Internet was the explosion it saw in Asia and the increased usage it is seeing in the U. S.

Smartphones in Japan let users watch live television and record shows like a DVR. Mr. Miller said that it is only a matter of time before the U.S. gets there.

Before mobile becomes a core advertising medium in the U.S., Mr. Miller said that it needs to become a transactional medium first.

If you build it, will they pay?
A problem facing media brands is the battle of paid versus free content.

Mr. Miller said that it is hard for a company to provide free content and then switch over to a paid model because consumers can go find the content somewhere else for free.

The Wall Street Journal did things the right way, Mr. Miller said.

The newspaper started with a paid model and stuck by it.

Mr. Miller said there has been a rise in strong premium content that can be monetized, for example Hulu. But, if a company is going to roll out paid content, it must make sure it is strong enough for a consumer to want to spend on it.

?One thing that?s interesting about mobile is that people are willing to pay,? Mr. Miller said. ?They?re paying for subscriptions to things like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on their Kindle.

?People are ready to do that and we need to take advantage of that behavior,? he said.

Mr. Miller said that consumers see the mobile platform as inherently more premium-content-based.

Given the portability of a mobile device and its convenience, consumers often consider mobile content to be worth paying for, Mr. Miller said.

Mr. Miller said that if marketers and brands bundle together premium content and provide unique experiences with that content, then they can fully leverage the mobile platform.

However, there are some items consumers will not pay for, like commodity news such as sports scores.

In terms of the online world, Mr. Miller said that he is still baffled at the fact that only 3 percent of display advertising dollars goes to online.

Mr. Miller said that budgets have been held really tight the past year and now that the new budgeting cycle is here, marketers will start to see some thawing in terms of dollars.

Per Mr. Miller, 2010 and 2011 will be breakthrough years for the digital media economy, especially because consumer consumption continues to rise despite a recession.

?With the recession it is easier to put money in digital and come out of it a winner,? Mr. Miller said. ?But the battle may become more difficult again.?

Mr. Miller said that U.S. companies still need to figure out how to work the buy and sell angle when building an inventory, because it can be easy to try and push bought inventory onto clients who may not be a right fit.

For example, Mr. Miller said that Fox Audience Network has encountered similar problems.

The Fox Audience Network (FAN) is a unit of News Corp. that supports monetization efforts across the company's online content portfolio, as well as third-party publisher sites.

FAN uses proprietary advertising technology to create targeted advertising campaigns for marketers, while also providing services to third-party publisher partners.

Mr. Miller announced a partnership between FAN and WPP to help both parties understand online audiences.

Sir Martin Sorrell, founder/CEO of WPP Group plc was the keynote speaker yesterday (see story).

With social networks and media, there will always be a next new thing, much like Twitter has been over the past year.

Mr. Miller said that on MySpace, which News Corp. owns, consumers share what they are into, whereas on Facebook consumers share what they are up to.

Music is seeing revitalization on the MySpace network and Mr. Miller said that it leads to a more premium environment where marketers can sell more content based around consumer interest.

Given the economy, Mr. Miller said that a media company should not setup shop unless they are prepared to fight.

?I think many models of content are undeveloped and it?s a great time to start,? Mr. Miller said. ?But don?t jump in with both feet unless you are prepared to swim for a while.?