Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Reaching Girls With MobiGirl Media's Girl-Friendly Mobile Ad Network
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
It seems like a "no-brainer" -- young girls are among the biggest audiences for mobile games, and there's a huge subculture of games targeted at iPhone-carrying girls. Yet, it seems like there's no easy way to specifically advertise on those games, or a way for those game developers to monetize that audience. However, Mobigirl Media (www.mobigirlmedia.com), a new mobile advertising network, is looking to change that by specifically creating an ad network focused on girls. We caught up with Jennifer Noonan, one of the company's founders, to learn more.
What are you all about?
Jennifer Noonan: Mobigirl Media is the only mobile ad network targeting girls. We're not the first mobile ad network. However, we are the first to focus on the niche of girls. We started the network because of our background, which was making iPhone apps for girls. We realized that there was no way to monetize apps and promote your apps in a safe and effective way for girls. It was not working for app developers, because they could not monetize their apps because there was not enough appropriate advertising for them--think dating sites, beer ads. That wasn't something we wanted our girls to see. For advertisers, there was no place to affordably target girls. Because we couldn't find it, we decided to build it. We spent the last few years building our advertising ad serving platform, and launched about two months ago.
What's your background and how did you get into this?
Jennifer Noonan: There are three partners at MobiGirl. Cara Hall and I started our business Appsnminded in 2008, making iPhone apps. We built around 80 of them, all targeted at girls. In the course of doing that, we realized there was this market opportunity, and set out to create the ad network.
Why didn't the current mobile ad networks allow you to do what you wanted?
Jennifer Noonan: The application market is very crowded, and both sides of the coin are trying to figure out how to make it work. Advertisers, obviously, want to reach people on their mobile devices, because it's a growing market. The people making apps want to monetize their apps. But the problem is, the current mobile ad market is what is called blind advertising. You can't pick and chose where you want to advertise, or what kind of advertising shows up on your app. There's a couple of problems with that for our market. One, is it's very expensive to get into. You have to make a huge advertising buy with blind advertising, and it's difficult to drill down. You can't say you don't want to be on these types of apps, and you can't choose the specific apps you want to advertise on. You never know where your ad appears. That was the problem for us and our own product. We saw apps we really wanted to advertise on, but there was no way to just advertise on that application. That's why we created a transparent network, so it's just like shopping. You go and pick the apps you want to advertise on, pay a fixed rate, and your ad will appear on that app for a thirty day period. It's not cost per click, it's really easy, and it's transparent and affordable to advertise to girls.
With the appeal of mobile games to girls, was it a surprise to you that someone hadn't already done this?
Jennifer Noonan: We think it was because people are making it more complicated than it needs to be. They want to own the whole marketplace, which just doesn't make sense. We were already experts in making apps, and it just made sense to us to go the next level. The other thing is, we're not traditional advertising people. Buying advertising, for those of us who were not in the advertising business before, was super confusing. We didn't understand what they were selling, or what it was costing us, what our ROI was, and where our ad was showing up. We had no idea when it was going to appear, even. It's like someone buying an expensive spot on ABC, and not being able to pick the show it would be showed on and know who the target audience was. We tried to figure it out as a customer, and the ad networks just didn't work for us.
You're just targeting girls -- have you thought if that will limit you, or how big the market is?
Jennifer Noonan: It's a huge market. Girls have a lot of purchasing power on their devices. It's a big market, and we feel like it's one we definitely want to own. We'll go on to Android next, and potentially also move to the web, towards the convergence of where girls are.
Were the regulations about advertising to children difficult to handle for you?
We're fully compliance with COPPA, the children's online privacy protection agency. The organization that oversees children's protection and privacy. They ensure that kid's privacy is not violated, so for example, you can't get the email address for kids so you can directly solicit them. We're the only mobile ad network that is COPPA compliant, because we don't collect any of their UDIDs, and our advertisers nor us cannot contact those kids directly. That's extremely important. We make it a no-brainer for the small advertiser, so they don't have to do anything special to be compliant when they advertise with us.