The two have teamed up with the goal of mobilizing NetSeer's concept-based advertising, which uses algorithms to pinpoint relevant and related concepts based on the subject matter in a particular article, in the service of contextual ad delivery. On a mobile site for investing, NetSeer’s ConceptLinks might display related topics like “Exchange Traded Funds” and “Portfolio Management,” which are monetized links for the publisher, the company says. NetSeer says it already has several hundred publishers using its platform on the web.
Mobile Theory does the work of making an ad unit appear and function properly in a mobile environment. CEO Scott Swanson says that takes some work. On mobile platforms smaller, screen sizes, different screen ratios, ability for users to change orientations, and those users' desire not to click on an ad and land somewhere else all must be considered. “We had to develop an ad unit that works completely different in mobile, to be faster, more simple, and more immediate than we do in online,” he says.
Both Swanson and NetSeer VP of Business Development Bill Matthews argue that other mobile ad options, Google Adsense among them, veer towards the blatant and low-quality banner approach that doesn’t add value to the user experience. “Instead of just shoving ads in there, we’re giving users option and saying, 'here are some related topics,' and then giving a choice of different ads they might be interested in,” says Swanson. “It’s being more polite and respectful, and it can be as competitive as Google AdSense from a revenue perspective.”
Higher click-through rates usually accompany ads that relate to a topic a viewer is currently engaged in, going up to 40 to 60 percent, Matthews says. “It’s more about capturing a user when they are trying to discover something,” he says. “That’s caught fire with publishers [on the web] and it makes total sense to take that experience and transport it to mobile.”
Publishers that will run the new mobile ad app include Minyanville, Wikia, Opera.com, Experts-Exchange, and Business Insider. The work the two companies have engaged in will be able to support tablet devices, as well.
As Swanson sees it, this is solving the next monetization problem for publishers. Mobile devices represent, he says, “the largest adoption of a new mass medium ever, and it’s all happening fast. …Web publishers who produce lot of content [for the mobile medium] are left with a tremendous amount of supply and not enough monetization.”