Smartphones offer a potential wealth of data in terms of the location of their users and, given the cost of different devices, their income bracket. For digital advertisers, this means mobile websites can be monetised more easily by selling highly targeted and hyper-local ads. That’s one of the approaches MHub, a Durban-based company that makes mobile websites for businesses, is now taking to make its own business profitable.
Launched in July 2012, MHub allows companies to build mobile websites for their businesses with little effort and at no cost. At launch, the company wasn’t sure how it would monetise its offering, but the solution to that problem has presented itself through some of the features MHub offers.
The service wants to allow companies to take advantage of the growing number of consumers who look up information and services and products on the go. It hopes to use location-based features to provide relevant information and ads.
Sites created with MHub are able to determine the mobile device being used; whether it’s a phone or tablet; and its screen resolution and orientation. For devices with GPS, it’s also possible to provide information on, for example, the closest store or branch. This means users can be alerted to specials near them or be shown relevant ads for other local businesses.
“Our mobile sites work on anything with a browser that can render HTML,” says MHub chief technology officer Shaun Trennery. Though MHub considered supporting basic feature phones in addition to higher-end devices, this approach was quickly abandoned because of the rapid adoption of smartphones. It’s also complex to offer a cohesive experience across old and new devices, and advertisers want to know their ads are being displayed optimally.
Companies can opt to redirect users to a dedicated mobile page that carries ad content intended for the platform in question. Thanks to analytics in MHub, those using it for their mobile sites can also find out more about their customers.
Although there are no plans to make money from companies using the service to create mobile websites, chief operations officer Patrick Carmody says MHub is considering various advertising options. “Sites might, for example, include a small logo saying ‘brought to you by X company’. There’s also the potential to target individuals with hyper-local advertising.”
When creating a mobile site, MHub queries SAFindIt’s application programming interface so that any existing information about the company designing the site can be added dynamically. SAFindIt has 300 000 listings.
Carmody says MHub is also looking at options for e-commerce that will make it possible to make purchases directly from MHub mobile sites. ‘There’s also room for features like appointment scheduling and loyalty programmes.”
MHub is in talks with unnamed retailers about creating mobile sites for them. It wants to offer a “managed service”, according to Carmody. The MHub solution could even be white-labelled for those wanting to manage the product themselves.
“The mobile Web is still in a strange place in South Africa,” Carmody says. “It’s in its infancy in some ways when you look at the way businesses are using it.” — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media