OpenMarket GM Sees Opportunities in Marketing

By Monica Alleven, Wireless Week

From CNN’s Soledad O’Brien to Google, the mainstream media was front and center at yesterday’s opening day of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) Forum in New York – perhaps an indication of how the industry is shifting.

Jay Emmet, general manager of OpenMarket, has been attending the show since its inception about seven years ago. Three or four years ago, the event still was dominated mostly by the likes of industry specialists – not by a lot of big brands. But that’s changed as mobile moves from the experimental budget category and into the regular budgets of more advertisers’ overall ad mix.

An aggregator, OpenMarket is playing aggressively in the mobile marketing space, a subset of which is mobile advertising. Its parent, Amdocs, earlier this year acquired MX Telecom, a mobile payments and messaging aggregator with operations in Europe and Australia that complements OpenMarket’s U.S.-centric position.

Emmet says the integration of MX Telecom has gone well. “It was a nice clean fit, so we didn’t anticipate a lot of friction or redundancy,” he says.

Like its rivals in the aggregator space, OpenMarket has done its fair share of SMS and MMS-based marketing/advertising campaigns. But are those mediums getting lost with so much emphasis on applications, especially given Apple’s focus on in-app ads?

Emmet says no, people can have an interesting SMS, app-based or a mobile Web- or browser-based experience; it just depends on which one is suited for the time. Apps tend to be successful for people who want a unique function, like banking or music. But search or discovery are more geared to someone who’s using a browser to look for something at a given time. Companies like OpenMarket will do in-app ads, too, depending on what the client is looking for.

OpenMarket works with top mobile ad networks. Is anyone worried that Apple will take over? “It’s a numbers game,” he says. Apple has a small fraction of all the phones used in the United States, he notes. As smartphones replace feature phones, more Apple devices will be used but so will a lot more other platforms.

As the mobile payments space heats up, Emmet says that will only lead to more business opportunities for OpenMarket as carriers increasingly make digital micropayments or direct-to-mobile-phone billing a part of their mix.