New Service Helps Celebrities Make Money From Social Media

A company called Mobio lets Hollywood stars hide content behind advertising and splits the revenue 50-50.

A company called Mobio launched Sunday with a flagship product that lets “influencers” post hidden content on the Internet that is unlocked when a user views an ad.

Revenue generated by the product, dubbed Mobio INsider, is split 50-50 with participating influencers -- basically a fancy word for celebrities -- who so far include Pamela Anderson, rapper Romeo Miller, model Jessica Gomes and actors Paul Wesley and Lucy Hale, among others.

Advertisers, which include Microsoft, Sony and Pepsi, pay from 7 cents to 50 cents each time their ad is viewed. Ads run from seven seconds to as long as 60 seconds and some are interactive, such as a survey. One ad for Best Buy is a short price-is-right type game, though it can be tough to locate because most content at the site is available ad-free.

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Celebrities can post what they want, or they can respond to requests submitted by fans, and Mobio president Mark Binns won’t reveal how the company determines how much content -- or what type -- is to be hidden behind commercials.

While content at the site thus far is pretty basic, mainly consisting of questions posed by fans and and short answers posted by the celebrities, it's enough to draw a crowd. A day after launch, 5,000 fans have submitted requests to the participating celebrities, and the site boasted a 57 percent ad-completion rate, Mobio says.

“Celebrities are driving most of the traffic on social media sites, but they haven't been making money off of it,” Binns said. “We help them monetize that traffic.”

Mobio is based in Vancouver, B.C., and employs more than a dozen people. It is backed by LX Ventures, a publicly traded “technology accelerator” that also backs Sosidio, an Internet company for health-care professionals, and Fodio, which supplies financial-reporting services to small businesses.