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Tapjoy targets Korea’s mobile ad market

Aug. 1, 2012 - 19:56 By Korea Herald
U.S.-based firm joins hands with SK Planet to get business going in Korea

Tapjoy, a San Francisco-based mobile advertising firm, said Tuesday it is putting its focus on the Korean market, claiming it is the company’s biggest after its home turf.

Mihir Shah, president and chief executive of Tapjoy, said Korea is a special market due to its infrastructure and connectivity as well as its penetration of devices running on the fourth-generation Long Term Evolution networks.

“Today, Korea is our No. 2 market with the U.S. being No. 1 and a part of that is because there are very strong game developers here such as Nexon and Gamevil,” he said in an interview.

“These are companies that we’ve worked with and will continue to work with for global distribution as well as Korean support. Korea is always going to be in the top five worldwide markets for us.”
Mihir Shah, president and chief executive of Tapjoy

The chief executive, who joined Tapjoy as chief revenue officer in 2009, was in Korea to sign an agreement with SK Planet to work together on mobile advertising.

The Korean firm will let Tapjoy use its T-Store platform ― a mobile application store it operates ― for mobile advertising and Tapjoy will select potentially powerful apps listed within the store to offer benefits such as marketing funding.

The two will launch their business projects as early as the end of September and certainly by the year’s end, said Shah.

SK Planet’s T-Store currently has more than 300,000 different apps listed in the categories of music, videos, comics, e-books and coupons and has secured over 31,000 developers, according to its company officials.

“We’re thrilled for the long-term partnership with SK Planet,” said Shah. “We will work on supporting app developers to leverage the Tapjoy model here in Korea and we’ll work on making that successful for SK Planet and then we’ll look further for more partnerships.”

Stating that he believes some of the best mobile content is being developed in Asia, he said the firm is getting ready to give out the Tapjoy Asia Fund to two groups, including one Korean firm.

The fund will be given to at least 10 firms by the end of this year, said Charles Rim, managing director of Tapjoy Korea.

In May, the firm launched a $5 million support fund for Asian developers of iOS and Android mobile platforms.

“For the global market, many app developers are Asian and we’ve been working with them for a long time,” Shah said. “We have a long-term commitment to Chinese, Korean and Japanese countries.”

In terms of its business model, Tapjoy takes a step back from display advertisement ― which comes to mind for many here when thinking about mobile advertisement ― and concentrates on its mobile value exchange model, according to Shah.

“Display advertisement is not an opt-in model. Consumers get pushed to advertising,” he said. “Tapjoy’s consumers have a choice. If they want to receive additional content, they can choose to see the advertisement.”

As an exemplary case, people can make their own decisions to view certain advertisements on their handsets while they are playing mobile games to get coins needed for item purchase, its company officials said.

“The Tapjoy model is an alternative. Instead of paying, I’m watching a video or watching another app,” he said.

With its established business model and the soaring number of smartphone owners across the world, Shah said the firm expects to see a major shift in advertisement from online to mobile in the next few quarters.

“The ads spent on mobile accounts for only 3 percent of the media ads spent yet consumers’ usage of mobile is 30 percent,” he said. “Partly the problem has been that mobile has grown so fast and it hasn’t been an effective channel for advertisers. Our value exchange model is expected to become the answer.”

By Cho Ji-hyun (