LSN: Local Mobile Platform/Ad Network

Yesterday, Local Solutions Network launched mobile widgets on the Yahoo! Go platform. Today I had a chance to speak with Lee Durham, CEO of LSN about it and a range of other mobile topics.

The company has been around since 2001 and forged early deals with carriers in the US to deliver local news and other local content to the carrier deck (and beyond). The content comes via local TV affiliates and, increasingly, newspapers. 

Here's an example of one of the company's sites:

LSN 2

LSN 1

The Yahoo! Go widget launch is part of LSN's larger effort to diversify beyond the carrier deck, where a majority of LSN's 75 million monthly page views come from. However there's an iPhone app on the way and plans to expand to other smartphone platforms.

Durham said the company serves mobile banners and video pre-roll today. He added that he sees CTRs on banners of greater than 2% depending on the campaign. But he believes that once location is truly unlocked by the carriers that LBS and geotargeted ads will explode. 

We also discussed SMS as a customer acquisition tool, as well as a marketing tool for traditional publishers. LSN offers a license-based SMS platform to clients that allows them to tie-in traditional media with mobile promotions/offers. Durham thinks that traditional marketers will need to experiment with SMS in their conventional media before they're ready to embrace mobile advertising more fully. 

I think that's probably right in thinking about the mobile advertising adoption curve. SMS in the US and around the globe has monstrous volume, which is impressive to marketers. For almost every age category, SMS now exceeds call volume. Here are some recent numbers from Nielsen:

SMS volume by age

Paying for SMS data plans, now a must, will similarly be the "entry point" for consumers in buying mobile Internet data plans.