Digital marketers' next stop: the mobile home screen
Russell Glass, cofounder, CEO, Bizo
There is a piece of real estate in the digital world that has been around since the advent of the LCD screen on cell phones that nobody has yet figured out. Let's call it the "M-Spot," as in the "most valuable piece of digital real estate on the planet" spot. Or the "momma of all ad impressions" spot or the "mobile gold mine" spot.
The M-Spot is everywhere. Over 1 billion of them are viewed dozens or even hundreds of times per day. These M-Spots are viewed by a completely captive audience, have location-aware sensitivities and the ability to target an impression with more accuracy than anything on the Web. They're timely, useful and always updated with the most relevant content.
What is the M-Spot, you ask? The first thing many of us look at in the morning and the last thing we look at before we turn off the light. It's the home screen on your mobile phone. Think about it.
Every time you push the little button that unlocks, opens and starts your phone, you are serving an impression. Today, maybe it's your dog or daughter staring back at you, but what if I told you I would pay for your monthly bill if I could just serve an ad or a valuable targeted message or a coupon there? Dozens or hundreds of times a day, every day? There is a huge opportunity here.
Why hasn't anybody taken advantage of the M-Spot?
It's complicated. First of all, it wasn't until 2007 that the iPhone came on the scene and opened a world of possibilities, including the ability for the deck of the phone to be used by an application. Then Apple locked the iPhone down in a walled garden. There also really weren't that many screens that could handle ads.
However, that's all behind us. The new generation of data, phones and appearance of devices powered by the Android operating system are coming together to create an open ecosystem that is accessible by apps and highly targetable. Android-powered devices represent about 50% of the smartphone market and that number is growing.
These devices can provide the kind of open and programmatic access to the home screen that would make use of the M-Spot by marketers feasible. I think each device could earn more than $200 per month on average from targeted marketing and well-placed brand ads.
My prediction: The M-Spot will bring a new disruption to the industry. Look for the first completely ad-supported cell phone in the next 12 months and dozens to follow in the coming few years. If you don't see it happen, I may just have to take advantage of this untapped real-estate opportunity myself.