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CBS exec: Digital sells scale across platforms

During “The high cost of hyperconnectivity – the new economics of content” panel, publishing executives discussed how publishers can maximize revenue from multiplatform content. The session also presented how to tie in other channels to make mobile more approachable for consumers.

“It takes scale to monetize, so sell mobile as a component of content,” said Marc DeBevoise, senior vice president and general manager at CBS Interactive, New York.

Invest in mobile
During the panel, the executives spoke about how mobile has worked into their companies’ strategies.

According to Geoff Cook, CEO of, New Hope, PA, mobile is increasingly taking over a large part of its business.

MyYearbook currently has 50 engineers, 12 of which specialize in mobile.

By the end of the year, Mr. Cook predicts that the company will have 15 mobile-focused engineers.

Additionally, Mr. Cook said that 8 percent of myYearbook’s revenue comes from mobile.

A screen shot of the myYearbook iPhone app

However, not every publisher is embracing mobile full-on.

Shawn Colo, cofounder and executive vice president of corporate development at Demand Media, Santa Monica, CA, also spoke.

“For mobile, we are still evaluating the market and following the money,” Mr. Colo said.

“We want to see what new things we can build and do and still have economic growth,” he said.

An executive from Time Inc. said that the publisher has not overestimated its mobile properties but is hitting the middle of the mark.

“Our brands are putting dedicated products and teams across the Time Inc. brands,” said John Cantarella, president of digital at Time Inc., New York.

For example, the publisher chose to outsource its mobile efforts when first tapping into mobile.

However, Time Inc. has begun to create more content in-house to better align its mobile initiatives with the recognizable brands of each publication.

Favorable fragmentation
Many publishers say one of the biggest problems with mobile is the fragmentation it creates.

However, Mr. DeBevoise said that publishers have bigger priorities to worry about than cross-platform solutions, such as HTML5.

“How many applications need cross platforms?” Mr. DeBevoise said. “The majority of content in an app you can play over the Web.”

In particular, Mr. DeBevoise said how the mobile gaming industry will be more impacted by HTML5 than other content creators.

Additionally, Mr. DeBevoise talked about how apps have the ability to integrate multiple channels.

Mr. DeBevoise used the recent example of the CBS Fall Preview iPad app to show how digital components – including video and social media – can work together on mobile.

The CBS Fall Preview app let users learn more about the broadcaster’s new fall lineup of television shows.

MyYearbook’s Mr. Cook agreed with Mr. DeBevoise and said that 25 percent of new users discover apps in app stores, which are already device biased.

According to Demand Media’s Mr. Colo, apps give publishers a direct connection with consumers.

“Mobile users are not passive,” Mr. Colo said. “They provide us with great information that we can use to leverage information right off the bat.”

Final Take
Marc DeBevoise, senior vice president and general manager at CBS Interactive, New York