The top exec at the new media tech company explains how TV stations and other local media can implement and make money from his new iPhone content platform that will let pump out news, sports, weather and whatever else they can think of to the growing legion of iPhone users.
Nearly two years after its introduction, the Apple iPhone is still a phenomenon. The versatile device allows its loyal users to listen to music, take photos, surf the Web, text, answer e-mail, work or play with any of tens of thousands of third-party programs (apps) and, oh yeah, talk on the phone.
More than 13 million have been and sold to date and the number of apps downloaded from the online Apple App Store just passed a billion.
This week, Inergize Digital, one the major providers of online content management systems for TV stations, jumped on the iPhone bandwagon, offering stations, newspapers and other local media outlets a turnkey iPhone content platform that will allow them to pump out news, sports, weather and whatever else they can think of to the growing legion of iPhone users.
To receive the service over their wireless high-speed links, iPhone and iPod Touch users need only pop into the Apple App Store and download at no cost the locally branded app. (The iPod Touch is essentially the iPhone without the phone.)
Inergize is owned by Newport Television, a TV station group. So, it comes as little surprise that the first three stations to sign on for Mobile Local News are the Newport stations in San Antonio, Tex. (WOAI); Salt Lake City (KTVX) and Little Rock, Ark. (KLRT).
In this interview, Inergize Senior VP-General Manager Jason Gould explains how local media can implement and make money from the new app and says that Inergize is committed to helping local media keep up with consumers and their “mini-computers” wherever they go.
An edited transcript:
Why are you this branching out into the mobile business like this?
It’s a natural extension for us. We’ve been mobile with our CMS structure, with WAP, from the get-go. What we’ve seen is that the online environment is moving to a mobile environment, what I would call a smart phone structure. Smart phones are portable mini-computers and the ability to target and deliver on such devices is becoming more relevant every day.
What’s the basic business proposition for TV stations?
I would say it’s two things. One is significantly reduced risk. There’s little to zero risk in getting involved and they can have the best working with them on the delivery of this application. Our partner, DoApp, was picked by Apple as one of the best iPhone app developers last year.
But what’s the deal for the stations? What are their costs and how do they make money?
The deal is a minimal set-up fee of about $1,250 and then it’s a 50-50 rev share.
Is there a monthly fee involved or anything like that?
No, no. It’s just a two-year agreement with the 50-50 rev share.
Where’s the revenue coming from that’s being shared?
It’s from national banner revenue. We’ve got adagogo, which is going to launch here in the next few weeks. It’s our self-serve, geo-targeted ad [buying] and delivery system. On top of that, we have relationships with two different ad networks that are delivering right now an average of a $4 CPM for the partnership.
So the station gets half of the national revenue. Does it get to keep all the local revenue?
It’s a 50-50 rev share there, too.
What does it take for a station or any local media company to implement this thing? What do I have to do in my shop to make it go?
You sign a contract, we train you, your team interfaces with the Web-based content management system. Once your team has all their feed structures in and we’ve checked the feeds, we create the branded app and turn it over to the Apple store for approval.
What feeds are you talking about?
The service self-populates using either an RSS or an MRSS feed, depending on the format structure. If it’s text content with images, it’s going to be an RSS. If it’s a video, it’s going to be an MRSS feed.
How much control does the local media outlet have in how their content is presented on the iPhone?
The top-level navigation is the primary bucket that a traditional media company has. The sublevels are all customizable by the station so they have the ability to bring feed structures in and out on a timely basis and without having to resubmit the app to the Apple store.
Tell me more about adagogo ad system.
As I said, it’s a self-serve mobile ad delivery platform that allows you to buy and geo-target your ads online. It’s like Google’s Ad Words. You register, you come in and you upload your creative. The user says, you know, I want to target this ad. I want to buy these different apps in this location. This is the number of impressions that I want to buy, this is the CPM structure and these are my flight dates.
What is the status of the service?
It’s in beta testing right now and we should be rolling it out sometime within the next two weeks. Our discussions with some of the big agencies have been very positive and we’re looking forward to bringing it to market.
Are you looking for one TV station or one local media company per market? Is this an exclusive arrangement?
It’s not an exclusive arrangement. Basically the content is unique to the station. The ability to promote and drive users based on their brand affinity is unique. It’s similar to our online CMS relationship. I don’t think WorldNow or IB offers their products exclusively either. I don’t think News Over Wireless does. So it’s pretty standard not to be exclusive in this space.
What do you think the non-broadcast market is for something like this — newspapers, radio stations, etc.?
I think it’s just as big if not bigger. They all have a lot of content.
The iPhone is not the only smart phone out there. Are you going to be offering similar products for other phones?
Yes. The Palm Pre comes out in June. We’re on a development docket for that. Google’s Android with T-mobile and more phones with more carriers are coming out later this summer. Our goal is, by the end of the year, to have certain aspects of Blackberry and Palm and Android all in place.
Right now, mobile remains a sideline for you. What’s happening in the CMS space?
The market is extremely competitive. There are a number of players and we’re one of them that’s doing very well. It’s a slow moving marketplace in that you have long-term contractual relationships in place and you have an industry that right now is trying to conserve on costs and therefore is being diligent in terms of their evaluation.