Medialets Making Mobile Display Interesting At Scale Says CEO Litman

MedialetsEric Litman is CEO of Medialets, a mobile advertising technology company. What’s in a name: why “Medialets”?

EL: The short version is that I already owned the domain name. The somewhat longer version is that I was one day musing about opportunities to innovate in the online dating category, and had idea for federating out dating as social layer within other sites rather than within the dating hub sites as they are now.  Once I had the idea for “lovelets,” I bought other domains that were to be a part of the “lets” empire… one of which was Medialets.  Think of Medialets a little bits of media – like chiclets.

What problem is Medialets solving?

We are focused on making display advertising interesting in mobile at scale.

Can you explain the difference in the opportunity for Medialets in addressing Apple’s proprietary platform and Android’s more open platform?

We think that each device platform has a unique set of characteristics that consumers come to expect from it and that brands can and should leverage in their advertising initiatives.

It’s important to remember, however, that consumers make decisions based on platform preferences, brands don’t (or shouldn’t).  When advertising across mobile platforms, it’s relevant to build an ad experience that fits with what the consumer expects from that platform. But ultimately, brands should want to reach people wherever they are with brand-associated content, and that has very little to do with how open or proprietary a platform may be.

If you were to picture a scale that measures a platform’s desire to technically differentiate itself on one side and a brands’ desire to buy in volume on the other, that scale would lean heavily in favor of the brand.

According to you interview with The Business Insider, you’re not an ad network, you’re a technology platform. Can you explain why? You still are an intermediary, no? Is there some similarity to an ad exchange?

We provide publishers with the technology to sell and deliver rich media ads, and brands and agencies the tools to create them. In the process, we provide a bunch of training and evangelism to help to drive transactions and move the market forward.

When we meet with an advertiser, our mission is to help them understand what can and can’t be done in mobile, convey what we have learned in the space both anecdotally and through direct measurement, and provide guidance on how to effectively execute a campaign. When that brand is ready to buy, we step out of the way, hand over a list of all of our enabled distribution points (premium publishers, ad networks, mediators, etc.) and let the buyer go directly to the seller. We don’t take the insertion order directly, and do not media plan on behalf of the agency. It keeps us in a neutral position outside of any sales channel conflict with our publisher partners.

Think of it more like a matchmaker than an intermediary.

What companies do you see in your competitive set?

We certainly watch what others in the online rich media space are doing, although to date there has been very little activity from them in mobile. Others in the mobile rich media space are just getting started and lack both the depth of mobile campaign experience we have and the sophistication of our technology platform.

Can any publisher be a Medialets publisher? Is it for “apps” only? How about about mobile websites, etc.?

A majority of our clients are top tier publishers like The New York Times, NPR, Fandango among many others.  Through partnerships with ad networks, servers and mediators, we work with thousands of other publishers in addition to our premium clients.

Today, Medialets is the most widely deployed cross platform rich media ad solution for mobile apps.  We are always looking at new platforms, new outlets and new ways to expand the availability of mobile rich media.

How many employees do you have today? Given your $6 million of Series B funding, beyond more engineers, what are the funds for?

We currently have 41 employees. We plan on using the proceeds to focus on the growth of our mobile rich media ad platform and supporting tools that together will continue to bring rich media ads to the broadest range of advertisers possible.

What is your strategy around data? Given Medialets’ ability to see the delivery of ads across all of its publisher partners, there would appear to be a great deal data in play.

Every ad tech company is fundamentally a data company at heart with a bit of sizzle on top – or in our case, a lot of sizzle. Advertising can only be known to be effective through direct measurement, and as such data is an enormously important part of our R&D and product focus.  The mobile industry as a whole is just beginning to understand what’s important and how to measure it and there is still a long way to go to tie mobile data into the overall advertising and marketing processes for a brand.   That said, the opportunities to do very detailed measurement in mobile are in a number of ways greater than they are online, and our unique position of having broad visibility across the market creates an opportunity for us to help drive and accelerate the pace of innovation in the marketplace.

Follow Eric Litman (@ericlitman), Medialets (@medialets) and (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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