A few weeks ago at WWDC, we had the opportunity to catch up with Aaron Thies, Ad Operations Manager for Horoscope.com. With the “Horoscope and Tarot” mobile app, users can access free astrology content including daily horoscopes, lovescopes, and Tarot readings. The application is available for most major operating systems including iOS and Android.
Here’s what Aaron had to say about Horoscope.com’s approach to mobile:
Millennial Media: How long have you been developing for mobile?
Horoscope.com: We started developing apps about three years ago. Even though we haven’t had a mobile presence for very long, we’ve seen rapid adoption by consumers. People really like to be able to quickly access their daily horoscopes on-the-go, from any location, on any mobile device. We’re pleased with the growth we’re seeing in mobile.
MM: What mobile platforms are you currently developing for?
HS: iOS is our largest platform, but we also have applications for Android, Windows Phone 7 and iPad. The Windows user base is still relatively small, but we’re hoping to grow that now that Nokia has committed itself to the platform. It seems like consumer adoption is increasing there, so we’re excited to see what happens.
MM: What is your audience like?
HS: Our audience is young and predominantly female. We think our application provides advertisers with a unique opportunity to engage with this audience, while they are actively seeking guidance and personal motivation. Horoscope.com users are avid consumers of online and mobile games, movies, music and apps, and have strong influence on family entertainment choices.
MM: How do you monetize your mobile inventory?
HS: We currently monetize both our in-app and mobile website inventory through advertising.
Online, we just launched “Horoscope.com Self-serve Ads”, an automated ad buying system for advertisers to quickly choose and buy display ads on our website. Now advertisers with smaller budgets can test ad campaigns on Horoscope.com. If the initial launch is successful online, we plan to extend our offering to include automated mobile banner ad purchases for both our mobile website and in-app.
MM: How have you seen the mobile landscape change over the last few years and how has that impacted your business?
HS: For us, the biggest change we’ve seen is the shift in traffic from online to mobile. Many users are going to our app, but they are also opting for the simplicity of our mobile website. We recently redesigned our mobile site, so that our huge variety of horoscopes and tarot readings can be found easily and display cleanly on the smaller smartphone screens.
MM: Do you have any thoughts or advice for other developers?
HS: One piece of advice is to build a user experience that is unique to mobile. For example, instead of just porting content over from the regular website, try to develop functions that can tap into the native features of smartphones such as digital imaging, motion detection, or click-to-call. To this end, we’ve developed games within the app like “Magic 8-Ball” where consumers can shake the phone to activate the 8 Ball and get an answer to their question. Allowing consumers to interact with an app like this is a great way to boost engagement and create a fun mobile experience.