Self-publishing site Wattpad finds traction in mobile

Reaching an international audience of reading and writing fans, the site is offering marketers a chance to target teens and young adults via their mobile phones.

Writers, as it turns out, are more mobile than one might think.

The time-honoured image of a young writer toiling behind a keyboard or desk in the quest for a book deal is being shaken up as self-publishing sites gain popularity. And as one Toronto-based site has found out, people are increasingly accessing its content on the go, leading to growth and increased advertising and sponsorship opportunities on the site.

‘The mobile site is growing even faster than the website,’ CEO and co-founder Allen Lau tells MiC. ‘We’re very pleased and generating a significant amount of revenue on our mobile site and our mobile applications.’

The site, launched in 2006, is an e-book community for readers and writers to connect with one another, publish work, and read their peers’ work. The site claims over four million downloads of its e-book app, that allows people to access content on mobile phones.

According to Lau, the multilingual site attracts 10 million visitors monthly from Australia, Canada, the US and UK to developing markets like Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and India. Budding writers visit to add to – and sample from – its growing library of 250,000 community created e-books and short stories, creating a social community in the process.

‘Our young writers are very social media savvy, so they do a lot of promotion of their own content,’ he says. ‘When they promote their content, they promote our site.’

‘We grew about 12 times last year,’ he continues. ‘We’re tracking a monthly growth rate of 20% to 40%. Our mobile traffic grew 40% last month alone.’
Lau says the core visitors and contributors consist of predominantly 15- to 18-year-old females, although he pegs the range of the site’s community from 13 to 25.

The site’s ad inventory is mainly provided by ad nets AdMob and Quattro, but Lau says he is open to creating customized advertising opportunities for marketers looking to reach the young adult and teen market. Contest sponsorships are also available.