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Mail Online CMO: Mobile is key to delivering a contiguous message

Mobile needs to play a key role in advertising strategies to reach consumers with a contiguous message throughout their day, according to the chief marketing officer of Daily Mail's Mail Online.

Mail Online is the digital spin-off from British newspaper The Daily Mail and the largest news Web site globally. The company also has a quickly growing business in the United States, where it leverages learnings from Britain?s more developed mobile advertising market to help brands reach an audience of young, digitally-engaged consumers who are consuming news content across multiple screens.

Mobile Marketer interviewed Sean O'Neal, global chief marketing officer of Mail Online about the ongoing mobile monetization challenges publishers face and how Mail Online is addressing them.

To what do you attribute Mail Online?s quick growth in the digital landscape?
Mail Online is the digital sister to the UK newspaper The Daily Mail. Four years ago we spun off and started a new company. We are a separate company, and that means we have our own editorial staff, commercial team and operational team.

A lot of traditional publishers have not actually established a separate operating company for their digital products. Very often their offline and online groups are working more closely.

We?ve taken a very different approach and we think that has been one of the keys to our success. This independence has allowed us to be become a pure play digital publishing company.

The audience is a global audience, which is one thing that is very different and one of the things that comes from focusing on digital.

A year ago, Mail Online over took the New York Times to become the number one largest news Web site in the world, according to comScore?s data. In the U.S., we are now the number three property in our category.

How big a role is mobile playing in the consumption of news content?
Currently 42 percent of all traffic coming to Mail Online comes across mobile device. That includes mobile browser ? people coming to our Web site - but it also includes tablet apps and smartphone apps.

We already have this highly mobile audience but it is cross device. What we are actually seeing is that it is not different readers that are coming on the desktop than the ones that are coming on smartphone and tablet.

There is tremendous overlap. It is the same audience but choosing to consume our content on different devices at different times of the day depending on their behaviors.

We?ve done some day parting analysis and there are these incredibly clear consumption trends over the course of a 24-hour period.

What we see is people before they are at their computer, they are checking Mail Online first thing in the morning on their smartphones and tablets. They continue to consume our content during the commuting hours.

Then what happens is that mobile traffic starts to taper off a little bit but is made up by desktop traffic. In the evening, mobile picks up again.

In the prime hours you have your heaviest tablet traffic, in particular. What we are finding is that during a show that features a celebrity someone is interested in and who we may have editorial coverage of, we do find that people are sitting back on their couches and watching their favorite shows and reading Mail Online and it really is a second screen experience.

Are marketers doing a good job of catering their efforts to how consumers are engaging with mobile?
There is still a pronounced discrepancy between time spent and ad spend in mobile.

One thing I can say with certainly, because history does repeat itself, whenever you have that kind of discrepancy between consumption and ad spend, over time the ad spend catches up. There is no way that marketers are going to lose out on the opportunity to get their branding message across to consumers on the devices and the channels that the consumers are engaging with.

This is why we integrate mobile in every package we propose, because if you are only advertising on desktop, you don?t get that smooth continuous dialog opportunity with our audience who is your customer.

You don?t want peaks and valleys. You want a contiguous dialog. So it is important that marketers embrace this and we haven?t figured out all of the nuances.

What are some of the challenges in mobile advertising?
Some of the biggest challenges are around tracking.

I know creative is something a lot of agencies are struggling with. I think the mistake is to think that you can just import or replicate creative practices that have worked in desktop display advertising into the mobile environment. That is usually what people first try to do because that is how they have done it.

You?ve got a very different level of engagement when someone is on a mobile device. They are truly captive whereas on desktop there are a lot of different buttons and distractions. But you?ve got someone?s attention on a mobile device in a very different way. So it really does, from a creative standpoint, need to be approached in a different way.

We are focused on high impact, graphically engaging mobile ads. Interactive is working for us and animation as well.

What tips would you offer other publishers looking to capitalize on the opportunity in mobile advertising?
Certainly look outside the U.S. for best practices. Try to understand what has been working in the U.K., in the EU, for example.

Innovate form a creative development standpoint and be proactive with your clients.

We are all very much still writing the playbook. That means the brands don?t have all the answers, the agencies don?t have all the answers and the publishers don?t have all the answers, so collaboration is key.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York