Mike Owen Q&A – Preaching the Gospel of Mobile

Q. You left Men’s Health to go into Mobile. Why’d you make the switch now?  Have you had any mobile experience?

A. I launched Teen People mobile back in 2001, well before Mobile’s prime.  I almost did the mobile thing about a year ago but the market still wasn’t ripe. The launch of the iPhone has changed everything. By the end of this year, there will be 75MM smart phones out there.  People are spending 20% of Internet time on the phone.  Research shows that recall for brand messaging is much stronger than on the Net because you are not competing with content. Marketers, like P&G, recognize this and are spending money to reach consumers in mobile.  It’s the place to be.

Q How do you come up with ad solutions that don’t piss the consumer off?

A. With the right targeting and relevance, it’s easy. You have to offer a service.  Download an application, offer up coupons so that you add value to the consumer experience.

Q. Who do you think the key players are going to be in Mobile?

A. Google, AdMob and Millennial are good ones.  I went to Quattro because they deliver the premium sites marketers want to deal with.

Q.  How are advertisers responding to your pitch?

A. Fantastic.  We’re looking at a triple-digit increase this year.  All the key leaders are in Mobile. Now the rest are starting to follow. It’s exactly like what we saw in the first four years of Internet advertising.

Q.  Did you even consider going to another online play after Men’s Health?

A. It’s really challenging to go into online today because it’s mature now and managers are setting up revenue goals that are outrageous.  They don’t understand that industry forecasts that show projected growth (or showed growth), included search.  So, these branding sites, that had zero search elements involved at all, were increasing sales goals by 150%.  It’s crazy!

Q. You come from Time Inc. and Rodale, on the digital side. What’s your view on how the big publishing houses are handling their digital businesses?

A. The challenge with these guys is they don’t have search and they don’t have Web 3.0 technology.  And, to buy one site is a really limited way to spend your money.  Hands down, all my clients want to do business with networks that have efficiency and scale. The publishing houses – except for the big brands, like ESPN, just can’t offer scalable solutions.

The big publishing houses are led by guys who know print but don’t know digital.  They are trying to stop the bleeding from their historical businesses – the printed page.  What they need to be doing is saying, hey, our business is changing so let’s remodel.  The commoditization of content is killing the big brands.  You can get information thru big portals and individual brands that have been born out of the Internet – like the TMZ’s of the world.  If more print companies turned to strategy that began with digital, it would be more interesting to the buyer.

Q. So, are there any job openings at Quattro?

A. We’re hiring a Traffic Manager and another marketing person.  We’ll be looking for more sales people in 2010.  You don’t need mobile experience to work here. In fact, I just hired two people who had no mobile experience at all. We want passionate people who understand that Mobile is the next Internet.

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