VP of Online and Emerging Platform Advertising Sales
Disney Interactive Media Group
James Smith is responsible for creating ad solutions and revenue streams through video, mobile, social games and social media content for The Walt Disney Co.’s Disney Interactive Media Group. In this interview, Smith talks with eMarketer’s Tobi Elkin about the future prospects for mobile advertising.
eMarketer: What has Disney been doing in mobile advertising?
James Smith: We have two different approaches to mobile. The first is Disney’s mobile web, which people access Disney.com from by a mobile device. It’s everything from moms handing their iPads and iPhones to kids in the car, to families playing games, researching cruises, buying tickets to our parks and other activities that are accessed digitally.
The second core to our mobile strategy is driven by a company we recently purchased, Tapulous, which has some of the leading mobile games on iTunes. The combination of the Disney mobile web and Tapulous enables us to offer advertisers a massive mobile advertising network that reaches all audiences. It’s a unique platform to take our existing franchises and extend them into mobile games, specifically on iTunes, while also giving us the ability to launch new intellectual property for The Walt Disney Company.
eMarketer: What has generated a positive response from your advertisers in terms of mobile advertising?
Smith: The big thing that’s working right now is rich media. As marketers continue to cross the chasm from on-air dollars to online dollars, those dollars are segueing from online to mobile. We’ve realized that a lot of marketers haven’t caught up yet and don’t necessarily have the ad platforms or the mobile destinations to take people to. Rich media units allow marketers to connect with the customer even if they don’t have a fully optimized mobile site.
Banner and video ads are doing well on mobile. In-game mobile ad integrations are probably doing the best. We’ve seen organizations spending in the $300,000 to $500,000 range for deep integrations into games. And we always want to make sure that we protect the user experience in each game.
We’re more of a premium publisher and want to continue to keep that position in the marketplace. But we want to focus on deeper in-game integrations that are more campaign-focused and drive larger deal sizes.
Our mobile ad programs can take into account multiple tactics. For example, if a CPG brand wants to buy mass reach of moms within a certain demographic, we would put together a program involving multiple games across the Disney mobile network that includes a little bit of video, a little display and potentially even some text messaging and incentivized video. We craft those tactics based on the advertiser’s objectives.
eMarketer: What’s not working in mobile advertising?
Smith: The thing that’s been challenging is that measurement is just not there yet. The industry is still trying to measure the results of these campaigns as they do for normal online executions. As far as effectiveness though, we’re seeing conversion rates that are strong and in some cases even higher in mobile than online.
eMarketer: What kind of experimentation are you doing with mobile advertising formats?
Smith: We’re definitely looking into the location-based opportunities for developing ad solutions—everything from geofencing to location-based social media and mobile couponing. We’ll look to innovate in those areas in the next 18 to 24 months. We’re exploring all the options.
eMarketer: What’s your outlook for mobile advertising in general and rich media in particular?
Smith: Deep integrations into games will drive most of our mobile business next year, followed by basic reach or network media buys. These media buys will be driven by rich media, and our rich media outlook is very strong because it satisfies the gap a lot of advertisers currently have. Because many still don’t have optimized mobile destinations to take people to, rich media ad solutions offer them the ability to fill that void while they get up to speed on what they want their mobile offering to be.
We’re seeing mobile video being bought in digital upfronts because it is, more or less, on the same platform and within the same buying community. It’s easier for an online video buyer to buy both online video and mobile video because it’s all digital.