Mobile Media Conference Lets Media Giants, Startups Swap Ideas

Journal Broadcast Group's Michael Gay speaks at the Mobile First conference at the Reynolds Journalism Institute. | Phil Joens/Missouri Business Alert

Journal Broadcast Group’s Michael Gay speaks at the Mobile First conference at the Reynolds Journalism Institute. | Phil Joens/Missouri Business Alert

Misha Leybovich sat in an office at the University of Missouri’s Reynolds Journalism Institute on Tuesday and explained his startup, Meograph, to a potential client.

Misha Leybovich, Meograph | Courtesy of the Reynolds Journalism Institute
Misha Leybovich | Courtesy of the Reynolds Journalism Institute

Leybovich had presented Monday at the university’s inaugural Mobile First conference, held at RJI. The two-day event brought media leaders from across the country and overseas to Columbia to hawk new media companies, discuss the role of mobile technology in their industry and exchange ideas on how to attract users to mobile media platforms.

RJI consultant Jim Flink organized the conference. Flink, who also serves as a consultant for Missouri Business Alert, said Mobile First dissected mobile news from eight different perspectives and gave attendees several views of how to make money with mobile technology.

Born in St. Louis but now based in San Francisco, Leybovich is participating in a yearlong fellowship through RJI. Meograph allows companies to engage customers using user-generated stories and mashups.

Mobile First also attracted leaders from large media companies like Google, Hearst and Scripps Networks. David Gehring, Google’s Director of New Product, told attendees that Google is working on creating a second-screen mobile experience for advertisers.

Jim Flink, Reynolds Journalism Institute consultant | Courtesy of the University of Missouri
Jim Flink | Courtesy of the University of Missouri

“When I think about somebody sitting at home on their couch watching TV, and they see an ad for a Chevy, they go over to Google and they search for Chevy, I should see a local Chevy dealer pop up,” Gehring said. “This second-screen use case that shows a secondary or a complimentary or a synergistic relationship between traditional media and digital media that increases the value of an integrated marketing campaign is something I think is particularly interesting.”

Flink said the conference helped established players and entrepreneurs alike. It exposed large companies to the innovative ideas and approaches of entrepreneurs and gave startup founders like Leybovich an opportunity to meet potential clients or investors.

“Not all of these startups want to be bought by an established player, but some of them do — or are certainly willing to listen,” Flink said. “Ultimately, at the end of the day, the bigger players still have the pockets to greatly influence the landscape.”

Michael Gay, vice president of interactive media for the Journal Broadcast Group, told conference-goers that in the beginning of 2013 two thirds 0f website page views came on desktop computers. By the end of the year the amount of desktop page views had doubled on Journal’s sites, but views on mobile platforms made up two-thirds of page views.

Still, clear challenges remain on the path to monetizing mobile media. Page views on mobile devices generate just fractions of cents for media companies, Gay said, noting that Journal made about $105 per 1,000 page views on desktop computers compared to $6 per 1,000 page views on mobile devices.

“It is hard to make money in mobile,” he said.

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