AdExchanger: How did the relationship begin?
MEDIACOM’S BEN PHILLIPS: We chose Celtra largely [because of] scale. Traditionally, we’ve built rich media ad formats using some of the same assets across multiple platforms in different countries. That becomes quite resource-heavy and also there’s a lack of consistent quality standards. One of the main reasons we chose Celtra on a global basis, and I think that’s the key differentiator here, is that I can build one and then localize the distribution for my more domestic markets.
CELTRA’S MIHAEL MIKEK: Within MediaCom we work directly with different branches. We go top down and we try to really educate mobile leaders on what’s the value of Celtra, how we can help them really scale and bring efficiency to the agencies and also bring them better tools so they can better serve their clients. At the same time we go from the bottom up. You never win an agency deal just by talking to the decision-makers or those who are responsible for bringing in innovation. It’s really proving from the bottom up that something really works.
What clients and campaigns have you used the technology for?
PHILLIPS: Within the UK, which is where it’s been centralized, we’ve got clients such as Sky. We’ve done [work with] some pretty cool rich media creatives. We’re also starting to set up now the social rich media engagements and [are] building on our positive experiences with Facebook. We’re now putting those rich media ad units into a social environment.
Who are Celtra’s competitors?
MIKEK: Other third-party agency servers are not always the same but there is a lot of overlap. Obviously DoubleClick is a big player. Google has solutions for rich media, although not at the level that Celtra has, not as specialized, but they are a big competitor out there. This is a pretty crowded space so there are a lot of competitors. One thing that’s important is that the way we see the future on a high level, we want to compare much more with Adobe. For the agencies, for media agencies, we are serving ads but our core technology is ad creative. This is what’s giving us the advantage also on the serving side.
How does Celtra stack up against competitors?
PHILLIPS: The support that we receive from them is very good. We’ve always had very good account management because they’re part of or have agreements within GroupM [the media company that comprises MediaCom]. It’s very easy for us to share the success stories. The communication’s very good. We also do the creative in-house and the feedback from the guys actually building these ad units is that the Celtra platform is one of the best that they like to use for being quite free and creative and not as restrictive as others.
What are the biggest trends in ad formats?
MIKEK: This year we’re seeing much more discussion on the format and really starting to talk about the user experience and the crazy possibilities, which is really important. Last year the whole buzz around programmatic buying and selling was so strong that I think the market kind of forgot that there’s another element that’s extremely important for successful advertising. We are big believers in programmatic and we’ve been really one of the first in the rich media space to support it so we can run Celtra today through all major programmatic platforms.
PHILLIPS: What we’re starting to see now is that the consumers are understanding how better to engage with different rich media ad units. We’re shifting quite a lot from traditional standard banners or even standard click to expand into unique ad units, which are a lot more engaging for the consumer. It just means that when people see a rich media ad unit they’re more likely to engage with that now than probably ever before.
How much has Celtra been growing?
MIKEK: In the last few years we grew from a team of five people, and now we just crossed No. 100. For the last few years, Celtra’s been profitable, which is very unusual in the ad tech space. So altogether Celtra only raised $10 million of capital, we have over 100 people and we’re profitable and growing in triple digits. The company’s been doing extremely well.
How does that compare to a year ago?
MIKEK: A year ago we were around 50 people. In January we were around 50 so we’ve doubled the headcount … and we’re planning to end out the year with about 150 people. We are primarily US-based. Now we have 80% of our business in the US, another 15% in Europe and we just opened at the end of last year an office in Tokyo, Japan. We have clients in over 30 countries. Our platform enables self-service usage so about 80% of all the traffic going through the platform is really being driven by the self-service users.