Science Inc.’s acquisition of mobile ad network PlayHaven is yet another sign of its recent push to develop engaging mobile content.
The Santa Monica technology studio bought bookmarking app Delicious in May. It expanded into Armenia in July after acquiring InLight, which shares women’s content through readers on mobile devices. And in August, Science purchased Hiq Lockscreen, an app that offers custom quizzes to unlock a homescreen.
“The three acquisitions that we’ve done, one thing they all have in common is that they touch a lot of users and have a lot of consistent user activity and frequency,” Chief Executive Michael Jones said. “So what do we need next? Monetization and scale.”
That’s what Jones sees in PlayHaven, which offers a mobile ad network that gives publishers direct control over ad targeting. Specific ads might appear after beating certain game levels, or users who already spend a lot of money might be given ad-free versions of an app. It’s the same marketing platform behind the wildly successful Kim Kardashian game, whose in-app purchases are expected to generate $200 million in revenue this year for both the celebutante and the studio behind it, Glu Mobile.
All these acquisitions form a clearer picture of Science’s mobile strategy, which is to focus on creating mobile content and learning experiences. With a 25-person team of mostly app developers, its unit Science Mobile Labs has yet to have a clear breakout mobile product. For Jones, a benchmark of success would be high user engagement – 100,000 daily users or a third of its monthly users using the app every day – or a strong monetization plan.
“We want to build experiences on a high frequency basis that people want to use for a long time,” he said.
PlayHaven, which was purchased from mobile analytics company Upsight, will keep its operations in San Francisco. Science has also invested in Dollar Shave Club, FameBit and DogVacay.
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