WW-176 -- Mobile Content Search – Can Niche Players Play A Role ?

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Issue No. 176 Thursday July 31, 2008
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Mobile Content Search – Can Niche Players Play A Role ?

In our past issues, we mentioned the success of off-portal sites
that rely on advertising revenue. Paid mobile search,
advertising in which advertisers only pay when a visitor clicks
on their ad or link from a search engine page, is rapidly
gaining momentum. A small US startup company called MCN,
headquartered in the west of Tokyo, between Shibuya and Ebisu
along the Yamanote circular line, is one of the drivers behind
paid mobile search. MCN started in 2004 in Mountain View, CA.

Last year, the business headquarters was relocated to Tokyo to
be closer to the fast growing Asian markets. The research and
product development team is still in Mountain View. The company
already employs 50 people.

The challenge for mobile search is the quality of the search
results. It often takes more than five clicks to reach the
relevant content. Mobile users do not have the patience for
this. Long click distances kill content discovery. MCN is
changing this with allwords - its vertical paid search program.
If the provider’s database contains content relevant to the
query, it can be presented to the mobile users in a few clicks.
'We call this 'Search Merchandising' and we are driving the
industry’s highest clickthrough and conversion rates for mobile
content transactions. On music search, for example, our
clickthroughs are approaching 50% and growing and our content
partners tell us our conversion rates are easily double those of
competing systems' says Marc Brookman, CEO of MCN. Content
providers are charged on a pay-per-click basis, similar to
Google’s Adwords, except that with allwords they don’t have to
manage the complexity of bidding for keywords—they can buy all
of the keywords in a given category (Music, Images, Games,
Comics, Video, etc)..

In Japan, MCN has signed up with more than 30 content providers
and 6 distribution partners and portals. Yahoo! Mobile Japan
uses allwords. On the Yahoo! Mobile Japan top page, users can
click on vertical content channel links to browse to the music
or comics or games pages where the content search is powered by
MCN. After entering the key word, MCN connects the query in
real-time directly to multiple content provider databases, ranks
the most relevant results into a ‘Top 5’ and returns actual
content items, not just links, to the user to purchase the content.

MCN co-exists with the traditional search providers. Google and
Yahoo are targeting big traffic customers with mobile search.
Google provides its search engine to DoCoMo and KDDI. Their
search results are often not relevant for paid mobile content
discovery, the niche market MCN has been growing in with its
white label service. How long will it take before Google and
Yahoo adapt their search and business model for the mobile
Internet? Stay tuned.

By Arjen Van Blokland

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Comments

http://www.japaninc.com/ww176

Marc Brookman should be Marc Bookman.

business