As more and more consumers start to make their mobile devices their primary devices, AOL has adjusted to these changing times with new products and solutions for a mobile first audience. Mobile apps have been at the forefront of a number of product launches, creating unique mobile experiences like Editions, Engadget Distro, AOL.com for iPad, the soon to be released Huffington. and new versions of Winamp and Moviefone.
Leading the charge to make sure all of these products are effectively monetized with our brand advertisers is Head of Monetization for AOL Mobile, Mandar Shinde. AOL is the 4th largest mobile property in the US*, and the work of Mandar and the AOL Mobile team is responsible for that reach, and ensuring AOL capitalizes on the Mobile marketplace.
Why does AOL put such a focus on mobile? Mandar thinks the opportunity and the timing is finally right, which can be seen in its increasing popularity: "There are more than 100 million smartphones in the US already creating more broadband connections on these smartphones than home broadband connections. There are probably 40 to 50 million tablets that are continuously replacing home desktop usage."
Mandar is aware that as users move to these screens, its imperative advertising will move to these screens – at end of the day it's a reach and frequency game, and that will never change. Mobile also provides a new set of tools that will cause both branders and performance buyers to reach this audience and goal themselves differently. Tools that desktop never had like calling, calendaring, and mapping. For example, Mandar knows that Mapquest on desktop is a planning tool while on Mobile it's a navigational utility – each attracting a different set of advertisers (desktop being more CPG/Brand centric before the purchase cycle and Mobile being more local driven to find a local food chain or a local hotel chain).
In his role focused on monetization, it's imperative that products meet the needs of advertisers and marketers as well. "With a personal device that goes with the consumer everywhere, it's just a matter of time before advertisers will find the right mix to reach their audience on the go. Mobile users tend to have a specific purpose (directions, food, etc.) or snacky behaviors (airport, subway, etc.) along with their ability to know their location. Contextual , and emotionally driven advertising becomes a logical fit sooner than later."
What trends should we expect in 2012? Mandar is putting his money on the continued growth of the tablet as a dominant home device. "We can expect close to 125 to 140 million smartphones in the US alone by the end of 2012, and around 75 to 100 million tablets to go with them. I think the release of Windows 8 will make an impact with the amount of developer base they will bring to Mobile and finally put some pressure on iOS and Android."
Along with being intimately involved in the development of AOL's Mobile products, Mandar is an active user of them as well (along with his young son): "I love our Distro and Moviefone Apps for iPad. Distro is awesome. Being a geek and a follower of 'show me the new hottest thing', Distro is awesome for me to download every Friday, and then consume in mass quantities when I am flying up/down the coast. Moviefone on the iPad on the other hand is just a natural tablet design that makes one think if all products could be designed so.... simply! My 3 yea- old has even figured how to get movie trailers to play! We are in the middle of an industrial design change and Apple is really driving it but there will be more players"
As you can see, Mandar's family is extremely important to him. Ask him, and he'll tell you how they inspire him to be better: "I love spending time with my son - observing him learn and grow makes me wiser every day. He just started his pre-K and swimming classes, so there is plenty to keep me very happily busy."
"My wife taught me that one can follow their hobbies keenly while keeping their career path intact (she is an engineer manager by profession but managed to follow her hobby and made it a second career as a stock photography model before our first child). She really put the ball out of the park when she did her first half marathon after our child was born (for someone who hated running). She has taught me that there is always time for personal achievements and work/life balance remains key."
Learn more about the products and services Mandar and the rest of the AOL Mobile team work on at http://mobile.aol.com/.
*comScore Media Metrix - Mobilens, March 2012; based on custom category built by AOL
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