AdExchanger.com: In regards to your company’s recent funding, can you talk a little bit more about what that $25 million is going for – sales and marketing?
DG: Originally, we had sales and marketing squarely on the brain. And as we went into the fundraising, we landed some large companies on the Mocean side, which is the ad server piece of our business. So, in addition to the sales and marketing expansion globally, we’ll be adding layers of support for some of these deals to make sure that these clients are well taken care of.
Originally, it was, “Sell, sell, sell.” And now it’s, “OK, we have some really good clients under the belt. Let’s make sure that we give them all the attention they need.”
How do Mocean and Mojiva interact? Ultimately, they are one company but do you share client lists between the two, for example?
This is a lesson I learned at DoubleClick where we had the DoubleClick ad network years ago, and then we developed white‑label ad serving, which became DART. Originally, there was a lot of concern such as, “Boy, you have an ad‑sales team. If I’m using your ad serving platform and you’ve got an ad‑sales team [for your ad network], we wouldn’t want to think they’re looking at the data and seeing who we’re bringing in and at what price.”
Recognizing publisher concerns, I asked some DoubleClick founders for advice. It was squarely, “Separate them as much as possible. Make them two separate companies, so that you get rid of that illusion of one company and shared information across both.” You can’t share information of your platform customers with your ad network guys. If you did that once, you’d be out of business. And, things would spiral out of control in a hurry.
Taking it the next step and developing two companies was the way that we could make sure that the industry knew that we treated this very seriously. We have double the marketing cost, double the office‑space cost, etc. It’s been a burden on a small company to run two separate companies, but it’s been vital in our gaining the trust of certain platform customers.
Once customers on the platform get wind of the fact that we’re a legitimate enterprise and have two separate companies, they usually tap into the ad network to help them sell where they need it, and they become very comfortable very fast.
Believe me, I’d love to have one company, one marketing budget, and one P&L, but we just can’t do it.
How are you breaking into this market and overcoming concerns about integrating a new ad server on top of an existing integration such as Google DoubleClick’s DART? Why would a company want to have a separate mobile ad server?
We’ve had a lot of customers who’ve started out that way, saying, “I have an online ad server. They do a great job for me. I’ll just make that work for mobile.” And the reality is, mobile is unique and has a different set of problems to tackle – things like handset detection‑‑it’s not a trivial thing‑‑frequency capping on mobile where there’s a lack of cookies, geolocation targeting and so on.
So, we’ve had discussions where the initial reaction was, “We’re fine. We’re going to handle mobile the way we do online.”
Usually, within eight or nine months, as the traffic grows in mobile and becomes more important, they realize that there are inefficiencies in what they’re doing with their online ad server and they come back to us. So we’ve done some back‑end integration to make sure that they can have apples‑to‑apples comparisons through a DART dashboard, if they want to use that for simplicity’s sake. But the actual ad serving, the targeting, the forecasting, etc., all go through our platform.
When do you see audience buying and the demand-side platform (DSP) world happening in mobile?
Audience buying has clearly gotten a ton of traction in online because there are elements of the audience that are worth bidding for, on a real‑time basis or whatever.
I don’t see the depth of audience data as a biddable entity yet [in mobile]. The lack of client‑side cookies, lack of behavioral targeting, lack of re‑targeting, if you will‑‑all of those things are crucial to the rise and the success of those kinds of ecosystems.
Eventually, it’ll probably get there. I just don’t see the big brands today. No matter what some of the players in that space say, I just don’t see that there’s a huge bid on the upside for getting bits and pieces of any kind of relevant data, if you will. They’re not buying empty shopping carts and so on the way they do in the online space.
That said, we’re doing integrations with DSPs. We’re in the midst of several similar discussions with the real‑time‑bidding platforms. We’re squarely a player there. We will be pumping into ad exchanges as well. But, it’s not, in my mind, a market that’s ready for prime time yet, nor will it be in the near future. When it is, we’ll be an interesting piece of that ecosystem.
The big brands have a hard enough time getting a banner done in mobile. If you start asking them to do audience buying, their heads start spinning
Regarding, the mobile ad network business, why is it Mojiva has been able to start a mobile ad network business? There sure seems like there’s a lot of them out there.
This is one of those things where it is definitely challenging, as a mobile ad network, to differentiate yourself and the more ad networks that pop up the harder that becomes.
We’ve taken the position in the ad network space that we’re a premium ad network and integrated with all the leading rich media vendors. This gives brands a chance to do rich media from any vendor they choose, at scale, which I think is vitally important.
The other side to our view is, “Let there be hundreds of ad networks as long as our Mocean ad serving platform powers them all.” We have more than a dozen ad networks that have sprung up with the Mocean platform as their core. So, I’m happy to have massive amounts of ad networks as long as Mocean is involved and we get to power a ton of them.
I think over time networks will find their way. They’ll be niche networks that are vitally important, for example. I don’t think Mojiva will be the strongest ad network in Finland, for instance, yet we power a couple ad networks there that hopefully will be the strongest and do large volumes for our ad server.
So essentially your publisher‑development team for the Mojiva ad network is being sourced through the tool side of the house with Mocean. So, maybe that’s another model for the ad network – the provision of a tool which helps people source the inventory? Do you like that characterization?
I think that’s fair. For instance, the platform is integrated with 50 plus ad networks right now. Some of those ad networks have very, very strong sales ability in certain categories yet they’ll tap into other networks in a platform to help fill where they can. There’s a more efficient market when you start combining the salesmanship of all the different ad networks through a platform like Mocean. So I think that Mojiva benefits in a lot of ways by the relationships we have with publishers and ad networks around the world who know where we’re strong and they can tap into us for what we’re strong at and vice versa.
Any trends that pop to mind in regards to creative in mobile today?
It’s definitely getting more interesting. Creative shops that used to look at mobile with disdain are starting to ask, “How do we reach and attract new customers and retain existing customers through our mobile ad units? -And we’ve got to do more than just a banner or a text link!” They’re starting to tap into some of the unique functionality of mobile devices such as geolocation or the fact that there’s a camera in most of these phones. We’re seeing a definite upward trend in what is happening from the creative execution on mobile.
We’re starting to see many options beyond the shakable app, if you will, because there’s finally scalability in rich media.
So as a result, there’s a reason to spend more time and energy thinking about what these devices can do, how do you get creative in the ad execution? Video ads, full page ads, takeovers, etc., they’re all starting to become more interesting for the consumer and certainly for us as an ad server.
What do you think the biggest challenge is right now running a mobile ad business for you?
Number one is just pure lack of knowledge from everybody, myself included, on where this thing is really headed. You can feel it everywhere you go. This is another market, another set of learnings. So one of the biggest challenges is getting ad agencies, brand direct guys, even direct marketers, over the, “Hey, how much do we really invest in mobile because we don’t know where it’s going?” I think those fears are starting to be forced aside as more of their customers are accessing their content through mobile or clicking on ads or whatever.
Also, I think education is clearly going to be a challenge for the next couple of years. That’s a big cost for us ‑ educate the market and lead them on the road with our sales guys, with our publisher team. Just educating people on what we see out there and what not to be afraid of and what not to waste time with, that’s number one.
Secondly I think there is a lot of misinformation from companies stating where things are headed. For instance, the audience guys are pounding into the market that this is where it’s at. “You have to go here now.”
The reality is I don’t think there’s this return quite yet and something all these players are trying to figure out as there have been a couple of missteps where companies have gone out and been burned quickly. So, there’s a lot of weeding through. And a lot of people ask us about our financials and who’s our backers.
They want to make sure that they’re getting in bed with a vendor that’s going to be around for a long time.
A year from now, what milestones would you like the company to have accomplished?
I want Mojiva to be seen as the premiere, leading mobile ad network in terms of customer service. Ad networks in general, mobile or digital or otherwise ‑ it’s not a significantly intellectual business. It’s a service business. And if we’re doing the best job for our publishers and the best job for our ad clients, then we’ll be in great shape.
On the platform side I want to be the de facto standard in mobile ad serving. So people measure the discrepancies, ad calls and everything by a Mocean currency, if you will.