MEC's Tong talks mobile apps and advertising

Chien-Wen Tong, regional director of mobile marketing and digital projects at MEC Global, believes mobile apps present a great opportunity for innovative advertisers.

Speaking to CNBC, Tong admitted that the majority of revenue from successful apps came from upselling the users to making in-apps purchases themselves. However, she said it was anticipated advertising revenue that helped developers build the platforms in the first place.

Tong said media agencies were rising to the challenge of keeping app advertising interesting and innovative and not off-putting like the pre-roll ads on YouTube.

She said: "I think one of the problems is that we've taken traditional advertising and just thrown it onto a mobile. But mobile has great things like touch – an entire screen unit that you can play with.

"You can see other pieces of content, you can see video in a selective way. Mobiles are rich media units which are a lot more interesting than the video that we just get thrown up in front of the videos that we actually want to watch."

With an extensive amount of apps being created for basic facilities that people use on a day-to-day basis, such as financial services and utilities, Tong was asked how this was affecting the business for traditional companies who might have provided these services on a non-mobile platform.

Tong said: "Traditional providers are quickly realising that they need to extend their services onto mobile. So they are ensuring that consumers can transact and check their banking whenever they want. They understand that this is a critical place to be from a service point of view.

"But there are other providers who are thinking we can provide usefulness on our smartphones to consumers who may not consider traditional banking that relevant to them any more. So it is shaking up the banking world."

A concern raised during the interview was that this in-app technology did not have the potential to create a whole business in its own right, like the internet did in the 1980s, and the railway network before that. It was put to her that claims that this kind of technology could create a whole new industry in its own right would be "over-egging the pudding".

Tong strongly disagreed. She said: "You actually have people who are creating new jobs because of this new engagement capability. Companies are spending time with consumers in a way which they haven't been able to before. It's an opportunity to sell more and to do more with consumers on a 24-hour basis, as the mobile is the only device that we carry with us all of the time."

Tong pointed out that we spend an average of 77 minutes each day using mobile apps.

Follow Nick Batten on Twitter @NickBatten2

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