My Mission to Redefine Mobile Entertainment

By Benoit Vatere, CEO of Mammoth Media

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I started Mammoth Media with one, clear vision: build a media company that redefines mobile entertainment.

The mobile entertainment landscape that we experience today is saturated with social and game content, and the quality is often subpar. I had two back-to-back experiences that led me to this realization, ultimately leading to where I am today with Mammoth Media.

The first was observing one of the top publishing companies in the world make the transition of taking their highly successful content from desktop to mobile. From the outset, it was obvious that they were struggling to adapt the content to a new format while maintaining the same level of engagement that they had previously enjoyed in its native format. I learned a critical lesson: you can have great content, but that alone will not guarantee that it will be successful on mobile.

During my time as CEO at PlayHaven (a large mobile gaming app network) I saw the complete opposite in terms of user acquisition and engagement. Their ability to reach and engage users was astounding- with the ability to go from 0 to millions of users in a matter of weeks.

These two contrasting experiences led me to ask myself, how can I bring these two worlds together? How can I have user acquisition as strong as a game, but instead provide entertainment via premium content? As mentioned, up until now, the mobile market has been social and game-centric and I wanted to develop a way to entertain audiences with content.

First and foremost, when building a media company you need to own your monetization and your distribution. The Acquire, Retain, Monetize (ARM) formula is necessary for success, thus we built that into the foundation of Mammoth Media. A lot of companies have had great success on mobile, delivering well-formatted, premium content but when it comes to fulfilling ARM, they oftentimes rely on the major networks (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.) to meet one or more of these criteria. This can put you in a dangerous position as we’ve seen with Facebook’s latest announcement. Suddenly the publishers who depend on Facebook’s platform to share their content no longer have the same reach to their consumers.

The Facebook example is great validation for what we are doing- we must own our fate when it comes to monetization and distribution. To do this, I first started to build an in-depth data engine with user acquisition and strong monetization on all sides — ad, subscription, and IAP. Wishbone was our first property that proved that our data engine was working exceptionally well. With the analogy of TV, Wishbone is our version of user-generated shows — think America’s Funniest Home videos or Ridiculousness. Wishbone operates on user-driven content, with users creating polls and side-by-side comparisons which we curate for users to consume.

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With this first success, we began to develop our next property. Again looking at TV, some of the most captivating and successful shows have been the dramas and sitcoms — the linear narratives that you tune in for once a week. Through focus groups and hours of testing we were able to determine the best way to deliver this kind of content to users; we were going to bring fiction into the most native reading format, text messages. With this, the serialized chat-fiction app, Yarn was born. Yarn has been a major success, drawing in users for those moments of micro-boredom in daily life. And as a result, Yarn users read 4 times a day for 2 minutes at a time on average.

So what’s next for us? Much like how Viacom started alongside the big networks (ABC, FOX, NBC, CBS) by creating specialized programming and not disrupting the existing ecosystem, we’re taking a similar approach. The apps are like our channels and we’ll continue to build quality entertainment experiences alongside the existing major mobile destinations and solidify our leadership as a mobile media company.

Fei XIao