Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Mobile Social Ads Not Working Yet? How About Making Users Pay to Advertise Themselves.

Mobile social apps are notoriously poorly monetized. Some companies, like Facebook, haven’t even launched mobile ads yet, while others have found them much less lucrative than hoped.

MyYearbook is going in a different direction. The “social discovery” site, which helps users meet each other but isn’t explicitly about dating, has actually been pretty smart about zigging when others are zagging. Its latest business model experiment is a mobile credits program where users can pay to promote themselves to other users.

MyYearbook is giving all its users a popularity score based on their number of profile views, friend requests and other activity. Users will be able to directly manipulate that score by buying mobile credits to “spotlight” their own profiles within the app.

Usually, credits sold within a social network are used to buy virtual goods, but myYearbook is selling credits to users so they can basically buy their own ad units, which are targeted by age, gender and location.

Obviously, gaming user popularity wouldn’t work for a social app that’s trying to directly reflect real-world relationships, but it makes sense in the context of myYearbook. It’s similar, argued Quepasa COO Geoff Cook, to how Zillow charges realtors to promote themselves to other users.

(Cook was formerly CEO of myYearbook, before it merged with Latino social network Quepasa last year.)

The pressure is on to make money from mobile, Cook said, because myYearbook users are migrating there in droves. Fifty-four percent of both daily and monthly active users log in from myYearbook’s iOS and Android apps, and 17 percent of users are mobile-only.

Versus Web users, mobile users visit myYearbook more often, for shorter periods of time.

Up till now, myYearbook had been showing about one ad per mobile page view, but only making a “single digit” percent of its revenues from mobile. Cook said mobile ads bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars per month — but that’s not enough, considering mobile usage.

The myYearbook’s mobile credits system will be available on both iOS and Android, and it will tie to existing credits and promotion systems on the Web. In line with other in-app payments efforts, Cook said he expects more success on iOS.

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