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Monday, 16 November 2009

Bringing the Best of the Web to the Phone: Interview with David Mannl, Mippin


Full transcript of an interview with Smartphone Biz-news
Friday 13th November 2009 - 16:39

As society becomes more mobile, publishers are looking for ways to make their content accessible to as many people as possible.





While there are still some that have barely recognized the web as a viable marketplace for their audience, those that have adopted the mobile trends are quickly seeing changes in how their customer base interacts with the products/services offered and shared both on the standard web, and thru mobile technologies.

Mippin is one such company that specializes in helping users attain access to mobile content, and helping publishers mobilize their content for easy access for their audience.

Mippin, backed by Refresh Mobile, came to life in 2007. David Mannl, Head of Creative and co-founder of Mippin, states that he and his partner said, "let's ditch the whole client business for the time being' and focus only on mobile apps and that's when Mippin got started and launched as a product."





He also notes that when they started back in 2007 there were hardly any mobile internet sites around, and left a huge need for publishers and users to have mobile versions of all the web content they could.

How large is Mippin? "We have 76,000 sites in our system, all of them categorized into various levels of interest," answers co-founder of Mippin David Mannl.

David Mannl
Currently there are two ways to mobilize your content via Mippin. The first one is on your mobile phone; just enter the URL into the search box and on the fly Mippin will go out to that website, looks for a RSS content feed, and then creates a mobile version of it which works perfectly across 3,000 devices.

As for the second option, if you do the same on your computer over at mippin.com, under publisher or blogger tab you go into a flow where the user can do the same thing. Mippin will basically find the RSS feed and then the user can upload their logo, define a color scheme and enter their ad mobile ID. It's a fairly simple and streamlined process and Mippin has seen much success with.

TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN

Mippin for publishers

For a publisher the approach is a simple solution. The publisher comes to the site to mobilize their web content, does not have to have any program skills whatsoever because its a one size fits all solution. You typically will find two types of publishers the first one is where we are the primary mobile solution.

This means Mippin will work with a lot of blog networks that want to have a wide variety of blogs over 30 to 40 sites and for them its a complete and total package. Each site takes about five minutes to set up and that’s mainly uploading the colors, defining the branding and then they have this huge array of mobile sites. We also have publishers that use Mippin like an additional distribution channel.

David Mannl shares an example, "we have an agreement with the New York Times and we are allowed to republish their content as well, but of course they already have their own mobile site. For them they have their own platform, they use us as an additional distribution mechanism and then some publishers use us as their only mobile solution."

Mippin for advertisers

There are two tiers for advertisers. If you host your ad on Mippin, you keep 100% of the ad revenue and that solution is offered with Ad More because it’s the easiest to implement. An advertiser goes in, there's a little monetize tab in that mobilization's log, you put in your own AdMore information and from that moment on Ad More send you money every month as soon as you are over a certain threshold.

Alternatively, we have what is called Mippin Premium Publishers. For these more premium advertising, Mippin will actually take a little cut from the ad revenue because they have to interact with the ad providers and make sure they always get the best campaigns.

They also make sure there is more targeted advertising so they will give a lot of information about the site to the advertising network so they can insert more relevant ads into the system or into the partners' site as well.

Demographic of users

The majority of users on the Mippin network are in America, followed by the UK. Demographic wise Mippin does not collect any data with regards to gender or age or income. What we do see are the devices the user is using and the location where they are coming from. Mippin tracks how long users are staying on the system, but they do not collect any more data from the user because its just a mobile internet site and they don’t think its really necessary to register this service.

"They just want to quickly access every time they have spare time," David Mannl responds with regard to what the end user is looking for.

What’s interesting about what Mippin can see is what sites are more popular in each country. Mippin has a full time editorial staff that picks the best sites and puts them into categories based on popularity in the country you live in. So if you go to a category on Mippin in America, you will see different sites and different ordering then if you would do the same in the UK.




Mippin uses a crowd source approach for editorial ordering of content. David notes that one of our biggest successes in America is wrestling, which they were completely surprised about. While in the UK, it's a lot of tabloids and gossip and of course football (soccer).

Mippin replacing traditional computing?

David notes that especially in developing markets where they don’t have access to a laptop, growth has exploded. In Saudi Arabia the average time a user is on Mippin is as high as 20 minutes and that's just the average. So it's easy to see, for them, it's the only way to access the internet. Compared to the UK, where a user will spend 8 minutes on average, and America, 7 to 9 minutes.

It may be also because Mippin has one of the biggest selection of mobilized content out there. They've also built in recommendations into the system which will regularly recommend new content. You can connect with other users on the service, they can recommend you new content, so there are many ways to discover content on Mippin.

In cultures where desktops and laptops are scarce, services like Mippin seem prime for growth. In cities where many of the populace are constantly on the go, David sees explosive growth continuing, hoping that their service reach more and more people every year. It should be noted that competition in the mobile space is not as it was back in 2007.

Today competition or attention is fierce and the market is quickly growing. Mippin is now just one of many services that offer mobilized content, but so far David sees the growth of his network remaining strong.


You can follow David on Twitter @flashy1980. More specifically if you are a user of Mippin, David prides himself on the face that users can always submit feedback to the company for future improvements.

"Every page on Mippin has a feedback box and we actually read that feedback everyday because that’s part of our company DNA. We listen to our users because we want to keep them entertained and they are what help to make this service better and if we make the service better, we can entertain them better. So there's a lot of really great dialogue we're seeing. We are also getting a lot of feedback through the ad store. Its really good to now have the tools to stay in contact with your users and not just be a faceless company," David says proudly.

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