StartMeApp Gears Up For The World Cup, Eyes Mobile RTB Opportunities In Brazil

StartMeAppEven though it has a long way to go, mobile advertising is gaining traction in Latin America and companies are taking note. One such company is StartMeApp, a 2-year-old mobile ad network based in Argentina that serves ads in Latin America as well as other regions.

Dealing mainly in display ads, StartMeApp serves advertisers and publishers with its real-time bidding and ad-serving platform. Its client roster includes brands like Adidas, Audi, Peugeot, Microsoft and Coca-Cola. AdExchanger sat down with StartMeApp founder Alejandro Campos Carles to talk about the Latin American mobile marketplace, the company’s road map and the upcoming World Cup.

AdExchanger: There’s increasing buzz that mobile ad networks are becoming irrelevant. What’s your strategy for staying in business?   

ALEJANDRO CAMPOS CARLES: Our core business is mobile advertising but we’re aware that we need to do more. We recently acquired a company called Adnubo that’s an online trading desk. These guys have a strong expertise in RTB desktop media buying and with them we can serve ads across smartphones, tablets and desktops.

We are also connected with every relevant traffic source in the world for the mobile ad space. For example, we’re connected with Smaato, MoPub and many other sources. And in a couple of weeks you’ll see news about our own marketplace, our own exchange. StartMeApp is growing very fast. We have 38 people in five different locations covering four regions around the world. We [Alejandro and cofounder Gaston Fonzo] are investing our own money to grow and we’re profitable, so that’s fantastic.

What’s the environment like in Latin America for mobile advertising?

In Latin America we work with the same global agencies that you would find in the US, like Starcom [Mediavest Group], Havas, Ogilvy and Mather — these guys are everywhere.

And in a few months, Brazil will launch the FIFA World Cup and the whole world will be looking at the Latin American markets and Brazil especially. Emarketer [referred to research from IDC] that says RTB spend this year in Latin America is going to triple [from last year] and so more agencies will be looking to access those audiences, which they can do through our DSP.

Smartphone penetration this year will be 20% to 25% at the most but it’s growing quickly. Mobile broadband penetration is growing quickly as well and carriers are investing heavily on Internet connections. What’s interesting about countries in Latin America is the Wi-Fi access is free everywhere, so you can see the broadband demand is growing dramatically.

What’s your approach to in-app ads?

When we started developing our RTB or programmatic platform, we were aware that applications don’t deliver cookies so we focused on Web mobile publishers. We have applications in our inventory, but we’re mostly focused on Web mobile sites in order to track the cookies and track audiences.

What kind of privacy regulations do Latin American countries have for targeting ads? 

Right now there aren’t any privacy regulations. The governments in those countries aren’t looking at that yet. From an online perspective, it’s not an issue. It’s very different from other regions.

What’s on your road map?

Right now everyone is concentrating on the programmatic and mobile advertising space in the US and Asian markets but the next big thing is Latin America. The Brazilian government is investing millions of dollars to provide mobile broadband for all the people coming on board for the World Cup and then the Olympics. We are preparing ourselves to provide the best resources for that as well. Everything’s happening down there.

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