Building Mobile Local Apps: A Conversation With Golden Gekko

Today I had the chance to catch up with London-based mobile app and website development outfit Golden Gekko. The firm has lots of top global brands as clients (Jack Daniels, Coca-Cola, Nokia), but has crossed our path by working with European Directories (EDSA).

Specifically, it has built 300 mobile apps across EDSA’s markets, properties and verticals. This sounds like a lot until you consider the market segmentation challenges of a pan-European directory publisher. EDSA also has a pretty aggressive mobile strategy (profiled here).

For Golden Gekko, it was a bit of a departure in design, functionality and objectives says CEO Magnus Jern. Branded apps tend to focus on a graphical design experience, he says. But clients like EDSA are focused on performance, page views and eCPMs.

“Their biggest competitor is Google,” says Jern. “Internally, we had to separate the teams to do this.”

The challenges are equally met by market opportunities though. For example, next steps are to utilize the platforms already built by adding apps in specific verticals. This requires some repackaging but draws from the same content assets in a cost-efficient way says Jern.

It also spotlights some content areas that shine in mobile, such as taxis and nightlife — the categories the company is working on now. This is also a key differentiation play as there’s so much competition for users among “catch all” local search and YP apps.

Indeed, as we’ve argued, the mobile app environment is conducive to single track functionality — doing one thing and doing it well. The challenge, according to Jern, is building cohesive platforms that let publishers make content changes and functional updates in one place.

“You need a platform that deals with all of that change in the main app, and how that propagates to all the verticals,” he says. “Change it once and then move on.”

Meanwhile, Jern and company will continue to build on the platforms developed for EDSA and others. For this it hopes to take the above philosophy to practice — squeeze more value out of the things you’ve already built by finding applications in new segments and verticals.

“We own the core technology,” he says. “We have the full rights on these platforms. It’s one of our challenges and focus areas for the coming year.”

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