It works for us and it works for our customers, Dave Gwozdz tells ME.
Is there any space more insanely hot than mobile advertising right now?
Every day seems to bring forth new records in terms of numbers of ads served and – no doubt as a consequence – funds raised.
Analysts are all over the sector too, of course, which only adds to the bunfight. In December, for example, Berg Insight projected mobile to grab 15.2 per cent of global online ad spend in 2016.
That's €17.2 billion, which equates to 3.8 per cent of all media budgets.
As a result, there's a clamour going on among specialists to put down their markers now, and a 'big league' is being established.
US-based Mojiva wants to be in it. That's why it raised $35m and hired DoubleClick's former head of sales (and one of the firm's first employees) Dave Gwozdz to chart its growth.
ME met Gwozdz on the UK leg of his European tour...
You've been through a similar growth curve in online advertising with DoubleClick. What parallels do you see with mobile?
There are parallels but they're not what you expect. And mistakes are made when people try to replicate what happened in digital. A lot of our customers, for example, have tried to migrate over their digital ad servers for the mobile space and found it doesn't work. They want to serve ads by location or OS or whatever, they can't. Then they come to us.
Why is it so hard to build an ad server?
Well, actually, they aren't difficult to build. It's the interface that makes the crucial difference. The ad space is complex these days so systems have to handle handset detection, geotagging, rich media capability, reporting and more. Creating an ad-serving platform that makes it easy for non-technical staff to use - that's the tricky part.
Mojiva is pretty unusual in being able to offer both a network and an ad server.
It's actually not that unusual. When DoubleClick started it was a network. But then customers started to say 'can we have your tech' and we thought about it and said 'yes'. Eventually DoubleClick sold the network. The fact is, there comes a point where some of your clients will want to sell direct, and when they did that with Mojiva, we give them Mocean.
Does it cause any internal tension?
No, we've been careful to separate the two companies. Rivals try to make a big deal of it, but it works for us and for our clients. In fact, having a network can be a positive help because our direct customers can use it to fill excess inventory.
Mocean has won some pretty nice deals recently. That Microsoft contract must have been gratifying.
That deal, well, it's bigger than you can ever imagine...
Every day there seems to be a new stat indicating the amazing growth in mobile ads served. But for the most part, we're still talking static banners. Do you think the industry needs to develop a richer 'vocabulary'?
Personally I think banners are fine. They put my kids through college! And they'll be around for a long time yet. It's still hard to do expandables, 3D, AR and so on, and when you do you only reach a relatively small section of your audience. You spend time optimising your campaigns and is it worth the investment? I think that the best way to get ahead for the moment is less about new media than it is about service and just treating your publishers fairly.
So how can your customers optimise their campaigns?
One way is to be smart about the way you use clicks. For example, we find that after the third click on a particular campaign they usually drop off. So we recommend frequency capping and it works really well.
How important are clicks? There's evidence that many brands just want visibility...
Aha, well brands all say they're not interested in clicks and that they just want to raise awareness and get eyeballs. But then you show them a chart with all the click through rates for different sites and they take one look at the ones with the highest numbers and they say 'they're they ones we want'. And you say 'but these other sites, they have the most prestigious brands with the best customers', and they say 'we know, but we still want those over there." It happens all the time.
Where are most of these clicks taking consumers?
Mostly to apps and subscriptions. Click to call has been a bit disappointing, we find. I think it may be to do with the gap between the digital relationship with a brand and the personal relationship. It's a different psychology, talking to a real person rather than just scrolling across a site. Also, you do find that some companies set up click to call without backing it up with actual resources. Customers make a call and no one answers. That's not great.
I'd suggest that Mojiva has been perceived as a US specialist in the past. The fact that you're here in Europe to promote your activities indicates you're on a mission to change that. Do you see a gap opening up between the top tier of global mobile ad firms and the rest.
Of course there's a gap opening up, and yes we want to be in the top tier. But at the same time, I don't think it's over for locals or for anyone starting up now. You only have to look at history to see that Alta Vista owned search before anyone had heard of Google, or that Friendster was a big deal before Facebook got going.