Tobias Peggs is CEO of OneRiot, a social advertising network.
AdExchanger.com: Can you discuss how OneRiot has pivoted its business model and why?
TP: OneRiot is a social advertising network. We help advertisers engage with a targeted audience of social influencers across leading Twitter apps and social media sites. The company is three years old.
Until recently we offered two separate products that leveraged the same underlying technology platform. The first was a real-time search engine that surfaced the best content being shared on the web right now. The second was the social advertising network. In 2010, our advertising business experienced significant growth due to two things. Firstly, network expansion (we now show targeted ads on leading social apps like ÜberTwitter, Echofon and Seesmic). Secondly, incredible interest from brands hoping to integrate measurable social elements to their advertising and marketing strategies (we run campaigns for the likes of AT&T, Xbox, Gap and Aol). So in August of this year, we decided to focus all our energy on the OneRiot advertising network to meet that demand. It was the right decision. The focus it provided has enabled us to move faster, learn faster and deliver the best possible experience to both our publishers and our advertisers.
What problem is OneRiot solving today?
There’s no doubt that advertisers want to expand their marketing footprint on the social web. But it can be hard to do that well. How do you measure the impact of a social connection? When is the right time to make one? How do you keep up with the rapidly changing social media landscape (from Facebook, to Twitter, to emerging apps, to new social networks)? What ad formats work best with this audience? Advertisers are hunting for a way to extend their campaigns to reach this audience in a manner that’s both genuine and effective. That’s what OneRiot enables them to do.
What makes a successful ad network model successful today and going forward?
Our network helps advertisers reach a targeted audience on Twitter apps and social sites. Key to that success is a deep, data-driven understanding of the right audience for the right advertising message – in realtime. When this is paired with targeting technology and dynamic ad delivery capabilities, advertisers can take full advantage of that data to deliver successful campaigns. Creating connections with ads that are relevant in a specific moment is the key to success when engaging with a social audience. OneRiot has the technical chops, and a deep understanding of this very special audience, to help advertisers reach them in a way that delivers results.
Going forward, advertisers will demand increasing insight into the realtime interests and behaviors of consumers. The insights we’re gathering while optimizing a network focused on Twitter and the social web – where the audiences’ interest can shift in an instant – will ultimately have many broader applications to more traditional ad network models.
How will OneRiot differentiate in the ad network space?
OneRiot has two big differentiators: audience and targeting technology.
First, OneRiot offers advertisers unique access to a large and highly influential audience across leading Twitter apps and other social media destinations. Currently, advertisers are missing out on billions of potential connections with these social web users. It’s an incredible opportunity for advertisers, and OneRiot is one of the only ways to get there.
Second, OneRiot helps advertisers connect with that audience with a mix of new social, realtime and traditional targeting tactics. For example, we might deliver a Super Bowl ad to social environments where the audience fits the demographic profile for a sports lover (traditional demographic targeting), has indicated that they care about the Super Bowl via online activity or social profiles (behavioral), and/or are conversing about the Superbowl right now (conversational and trends matching).
This all combines to create realtime ad relevance for the social web audience, which in turn measurably increases engagement.
Please discuss how you source inventory for your network.
The OneRiot network consists of top Twitter apps, mobile apps, social networks and content discovery sites that jointly reach millions of Twitter and social media users. In order to qualify for our network, a publisher must play a part in the social media ecosystem. Today, we place our inventory directly, which allows us to offer an appealing audience for advertisers at scale. The additional value of working with our media partners direct is that we are able to optimize campaigns in realtime, as well as build out strategic offers as the space evolves.
What are the unique datasets for targeting purposes that you can provide buyers? How do you compensate media owners for the data?
We’ve built up our own unique data sets that help us target with a message that’s relevant right now for the social web audience. Our targeting combines traditional insights such as demographics and psychographics with realtime trends-matching, social influence metrics and conversational targeting. More broadly, OneRiot can call upon social influence profiles, historical data and realtime engagement data that together indicate the likelihood of a particular user, or groups of users, to engage with an advertisement. For example, we helped Time, Inc launch their new People Magazine Mobile Site by delivering dynamic ads featuring fresh celebrity content to social media users engaged in conversations about those celebrities in realtime.
Do you see the real-time bidding (RTB) feature of exchanges as an important component to what you do? Real-time data needs real-time bidding?
Conceptually, yes. What’s exciting about any future RTB work focused on the realtime web is that supply is not just about triggering the best bid for a user of a certain historical profile who is on a site right now, but a user who more pertinently is socially engaged – perhaps myopically so – with a specific topic right now. We’re actively working on making the OneRiot layer of realtime insight available in more standardized ways for wider use by exchanges.
Where do you see addressing advertiser needs in terms of the purchase funnel? Is it at the bottom of the funnel with search?
To date, the majority of our campaigns have helped drive brand awareness, community engagement and trigger social sharing of advertisers’ content. When you get that right, it really flies – especially with the social audience who love retweeting and sharing that content. This can mean that a paid-for campaign can generate its own, massive, organic amplification. In other words, our socially driven ad network naturally lends itself to the top of the purchase funnel. This includes word of mouth marketing, suggestive selling, etc. The top of the purchase funnel is where we seed early stages of a realtime social web marketing campaign.
However, we are definitely experimenting with products that take us down the funnel. To an outsider, the obvious play would be to offer product ads against keywords a user might use in a status update. But that type of explicit promotion does not tend to go down well with savvy social web users. We’re experimenting right now with a more appropriate form – what we call “Persistent Trending Topics.”
For example, we know that X% of our audience will Tweet some combination of “Good Morning” and “Coffee” everyday – which is an interesting segment to offer up to Starbucks or Peet’s Coffee & Tea. In many ways it’s analogous to Twitter’s own Promoted Trends – but we are guiding advertisers to associate themselves with specific predictable, persistent trends, rather than asking them to invent a trend and insert it into the social web.
What formats will OneRiot provide for advertisers/publishers?
OneRiot supports traditional IAB units and custom advertising units for both web and mobile. Our growing publishing partner network currently connects advertisers to over 20 percent of active Twitter users and over 100 million always-on social media users. We also see video as a natural extension to our offering, and that’s something on the roadmap for late 2011.
Can you see offering your targeting data through data exchanges someday?
Yes, inevitably, that’s one way to scale the business. The bigger question is probably, “How do we standardize what is fairly new stuff and make it easily consumable?” We’ll get there. But the focus right now is on keeping up to meet demand for our current offerings.
A year from now, what milestones would you like OneRiot to have accomplished?
Twitter and social media are powerful platforms for marketers, but marketing in these environments can be hit-or-miss and complicated. OneRiot’s primary goal is to help marketers understand the space, access it and use it to their best advantage, resulting in engaging and effective campaigns. We’re in fast growth mode, and social media is evolving fast – so the opportunity is enormous. Let’s do this interview again in 12 months time and I’ll tell you what we’ve done!