Interview with Laurie Ann Sims, President of Wizzard Media

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wizzard-media-laurie-sims-interview-iphoneRecently, Wizzard Media, a podcasting network, acquired exclusive distribution rights to six iPhone apps: John Kooistra’s Blue Attack and Blue Defense!, Phase 2 Media’s OmNomNom, Sudoku Classic and Sudoku Unlimited, and Markus Strobe’s Touch Scan.

Laurie Ann Sims, president of Wizzard Media, answers our questions.

There is a transformation underway in the App Store where there's the need for small developers to get more attention and marketing help. What scenario do you see in your crystal ball?

There is symmetry in the strategies of building an audience for a podcast and building a customer base for applications: We see that scenario combined with the influx of larger players to capitalize on the growing potential of the Apple App Store as the real opportunity.  Our experience with over 70 percent of the content in the podcast section of iTunes store — bigger is not always better. We see the synergy of our network and the inherent engagement with the Apple Store as the key to the formula for success.

Why acquire these six titles? What in particular made them attractive?

We are looking for high quality, universal applications that have a proven track record for sales, good reviews and ongoing appeal. With a little more exposure and promotion to highly targeted audiences, these applications are excellent candidates for increasing sales.

I read you are negotiating 25 more apps and have plans to go for 100. What is your criteria?

High-quality, universal applications in the Games and Entertainment categories.
We believe that we can leverage our podcast network, content producers and the engaged audiences who are pre-disposed to using iTunes to generate increased sales and revenue for applications while monetizing the podcast content already in our network.

How responsive have developers been to your advances?

Very!  Application developers see the value and benefit of leveraging an already engaged and iTunes-centric end-user community.  Our podcasts are consumed on iPhones and iPod touch devices by the same people who are active in iTunes and likely to purchase apps.

Why now to acquire titles? What's different today than in January?

Quite simply, our strategy is to give extended life and increased focus to high-quality, universal applications that have fallen from the top spots due to the influx of new and updated applications that hit the Apple App Store daily.

The rankings and favorites — just like the podcast section of the iTunes store — change weekly and influence how specific podcasts and applications are featured to users in the Apple App Store. The timing is appropriate because of the growing popularity of applications and the increasing number of applications being submitted.

What value will you bring to these titles?

Wizzard offers the ability for promotion across both a large and diverse network of over 20,000 podcast shows with highly engaged audiences. This allows promotion to be highly focused or broadly conducted depending on the nature of each of the titles.

As an example, general entertainment applications have broad appeal and can easily be promoted widely across the network of podcasts. Conversely, our depth in various categories allows for specific targeting for applications like Sudoku to education and learning shows.

Further, the utilization of the demographic information for the show audiences, promotions can be matched to those iPhone and iPod Touch users who are likely to buy the App.

Lastly, the idea that content producers and application developers can work together to promote and monetize their shows and applications within iTunes is a compelling strategy that creates a win-win for those looking to make money through iTunes distribution.

What are your expectations from developers?

We approach the relationship as a partnership that requires investment from each party in order to create a win-win situation.  Wizzard Media will invest in the promotion of the application, while the Application Developer remains engaged and receives incentives for efforts required to increase sales and maintain the application.

Will you be acquiring apps with ad-support?

Initially, our experience and interactions with application developers indicated that this would not be an advantageous strategy. However, we are now working with several where this scenario is showing potential advantages.

What influence, if any will you have on app development and how devs market their titles?

Again, Wizzard Media is not approaching this endeavor as a fork-lift acquisition of an application. We have found great success in our approach to working with Content Creators to create services to meet their needs.  This is a natural extension of that strategy and we feel confident that the working relationship will be based on partnership and mutually agreeable business terms and compensation.

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