Calvin Lui is CEO and President of Tumri, a creative optimization technology company.
AdExchanger.com: What trends have you seen at Tumri in 2009? Can you characterize trends in revenue momentum, deal size, client verticals, consumer audience targets, etc.?
CL: Tumri has experienced tremendous growth and momentum in the last 18 months. While we are a private company and do not share specific revenue or performance figures, I can share that we are growing at a rate in the triple-digit percentages in just about any metric you can imagine: revenues, impressions served, campaigns run, clients served, etc. We have seen average deal size for us grow significantly as our dynamic, intelligent ad serving solution has been adopted in broader and deeper implementations amongst our client base of advertisers in the retail, travel, consumer electronics, packaged goods, financial services, telecom and entertainment verticals.
We have also seen a much broader adoption of the Tumri solution across much broader consumer advertising use cases. Whereas many people initially used Tumri's AdPod for merchandising and remarketing campaigns, we are now seeing many advertisers leverage our dynamic platform for broad awareness campaigns, advanced remarketing executions (think extremely deep customer segmentations based not just on site visit, but also behavior related to specific category browse, purchase and non-purchase, recency, frequency and basket size, and more), and storyboarding/sequential messaging up and down the user acquisition funnel. These advanced executions have yielded amazing results. For instance, we have worked with HP for about a year now, leveraging a wide variety of marketing tactics with our AdPods. The results? Display campaigns with Tumri have yielded ROIs on par with search marketing campaigns, and the HP-Tumri campaigns have reached over 140 million US unique impressions. To do this effectively, our AdPods optimized over 20,000 unique creative recipes to various audience and media segments. In essence, we have been able to deliver for HP what many consider the Holy Grail of marketing: high performance ROI across broad audiences with the branding and visual impact of graphical display.
How does Tumri differentiate from competitors like Teracent?
We respect our competitors tremendously. ChoiceStream, Dapper, SnapAds, Teracent and others have certainly had their successes in various executions. This is great for the ecosystem and dynamic creative segment overall. However, there is simply a dramatic difference in the scale, flexibility and execution capabilities that Tumri delivers across a wide range of use cases, volumes, campaign styles, and creative types. I read in an interview with one of our competitors where they claimed that advertisers must use pre-defined creative templates when working with Tumri. This is just blatantly false. While we offer templates to advertisers, probably 99% of our executions involve customized templates to meet our clients' diverse needs. Our client list and volume delivered speaks for itself. Our list of partners and clients range wide and deep, including such world class brands as Hewlett Packard, Capital One, Allstate, Sears, Kmart, Lenovo, Travelocity, Dell, British Airways, InterContinental Hotels, Harrah's Casinos, Intel, Marvel, Six Flags, and Samsung just to name a few.
In May, you said that HP's performance using Yahoo!/Tumri rivaled search. Can you provide data so that we understand what you mean? What are the keys to running an effective campaign with Tumri?
Many people that release case studies share results about executions that cannot be replicated at large volumes or replicated on a regular, consistent basis. We partnered with HP and Yahoo! to deliver campaigns over 10-12 months that consistently demonstrated remarkable results at large volume and scale. As Catherine Paschkewitz from HP shared, the ROI from HP display campaigns with Tumri were equivalent to search. That is simply an astounding statement. By working in tight partnership, HP and Tumri were able to generate extremely high ROIs that were typically reserved for search and other highly targeted, lower funnel marketing tactics. But, we were able to generate these results through the display marketing channel – a channel that has been cast aside and forgotten in recent times. The beauty of the display channel is that display can:
- deliver broad reach across a wide variety of audience segments, broadcasting your message beyond those who are already looking for your products and services,
- deliver visually impactful consumer experiences with rich messaging that search and text ads simply cannot, and
- build awareness and positive brand sentiment at the top of the funnel, thereby driving more site visits, consumer search queries, brick-and-mortar store visits, and ultimately sales and customers.
For HP, our campaigns reached over 140 million US uniques with over 20,000 unique creative recipes that were targeted and optimized to specific audience and media segments. This type of activity simply was not possible in a pre-Tumri world. The advent of new technologies is a trademark of our space. The genesis of dynamic, intelligent creative is the next revolution, the next leap frog execution in marketing.
What is your revenue model? Do you charge per impression, per creative, etc.?
Tumri is a technology platform, so we charge based upon usage. This typically manifests itself in a CPM rate, but we have been very creative in pricing models to meet our various partner and client needs. We offer many services as well, which are priced on an as needed basis.
Should the creative shop be worried? Will Tumri's technology put them out of business?
The creative shops of the world are our friends and partners. Tumri is a technology platform that provides a wide array of tools, features, and reports for advanced marketers. Technology in and of itself cannot generate the type of results that we have seen. Rather, technology must be used by experts with the experience and talent to create what we call "the magic" to reach consumers. That magic is developing the right combination of an image, a message, a line of copy, an animation, an offer – ultimately a complete experience that captures the attention and imagination of consumers and causes activation and dialogue with your brand and product. Technology cannot do this by itself. It is the amazing talent at agencies (both creative and media) and the brands' marketing teams that create this magic. Tumri provides a platform with the right tools and insights to make this process easier, faster, more efficient, and more impactful. The Tumri platform pushes technology and machines to do the massive iterations and optimizations that humans simply cannot. To be successful in our ever evolving world, one cannot live without the other. It is the ultimate marriage of art and science.
How does Tumri offer the ability to optimize for audience?
Tumri's platform enables marketers to de-construct their ad experience into its core sub-components. Sub-components of an experience can include any and all of the following: intro animation, background template, hero image, headline, call-to-action button style, call-to-action text, promotion, featured product, price, attention grabber. Our system seamlessly delivers the right combination of sub-components based upon a variety of inputs, including consumer segment, media segment, website content, past performance, and more. In other words, our system can intelligently understand "who" is looking at ad and "where" the ad is being viewed, then dynamically generate the best ad experience (the "what") to that consumer at that particular time. The "who" can be influenced by information from (a) media and data partners like Yahoo! (the world's largest consumer portal who has deep knowledge and insights into who their use base is) and (b) advertisers themselves who have many customer segments such as browsers, purchasers, abandoners, frequent purchases, etc. The "where" can be determined by publishers and a targeting partner like Google, who provides Tumri contextual data about the content of the page that an ad is served upon. The "what" is developed in partnership with the advertiser and its agencies. It is the ultimate version of 1-to-1 marketing, but at massive scale of volume and micro-targeting.
How do users benefit from optimized creative?
Quite simply, consumers benefit by getting more relevant content. The ultimate advertising experience for consumers is when they consider the ad to be content. Let's use an offline example. Subscribers to special interest magazines such as Vogue or Golf Digest actually seek out the ads in the publication. The information provided in the advertisements present the latest and greatest information about products and services in the market from the experts in the field – in these examples, fashion and golf respectively. In much the same way, optimized and targeted creative presents relevant information based upon interests, page context, past behavior, and group performance and preference dynamics. Consumers are not annoyed by advertising; rather, they are annoyed by irrelevant advertising that is imposed upon them. Think of your own behavior as a consumer. How many times have said to your friend "did you see that E*Trade baby ad?" or "did you see the LeBron and Kobe puppet ad from Nike?" How many times have you forwarded a link or discussed the Super Bowl ads? Those have positive consumer impact because the ads themselves were considered content that was relevant and entertaining. Tumri can help deliver that type of positive experience for consumers and advertisers.
What is your view on ad exchanges?
Ad exchanges provide a great vehicle for media buyers in this ecosystem. With the explosion of publishers, impressions and fragmentation of audience, the exchange provides a much better mechanism to act quickly and efficiently in an ever changing environment. And it's a positive impact on both publishers and advertisers, as it provides visibility and liquidity to the media marketplace. However, I don't think exchanges will completely take over the world. There is, and will be, a need for other mechanisms for advertisers and publishers to create advanced experiences in partnership with each other. There is also the concept of futures market buying where advertisers want to guarantee placement and not leave it to market dynamics. Online advertising exchanges are often compared to financial market exchanges. And similar to financial markets, public exchanges are not the only vehicle for buyers and sellers to interact – there are private equity sales, derivatives markets, direct corporate partnerships, etc. that enable parties in the ecosystem to meet their needs, not simply one exchange.
Will real-time bidding (RTB) and demand-side optimization be an important new feature of exchanges? Or is it hype? Will Tumri be able to deliver through RTB auctions?
I absolutely believe that RTB and demand-side optimization will be a key evolution of the exchange marketplace. DoubleClick just announced this type of functionality will be coming to its exchange. Historically, exchanges have been more focused on yield optimization for publisher inventory. Just like any marketplace, there is a need for balance – meaning you will need to service the needs of both the buyer and seller for a truly liquid exchange. RTB and advertiser-oriented optimization will be very important in introducing that balance so that exchanges can take the next step. Tumri will absolutely be involved in this ecosystem. The fact is that the ecosystem will be introducing (a) more data and audience/media segments to service advertiser needs, and (b) more dynamic executions that are more real-time in nature. When these capabilities come into the marketplace, the need for a platform like Tumri will be even more pronounced. Our dynamic ad platform helps advertisers carry the execution through the last mile. The more micro-targeted and dynamic the ecosystem becomes, the more you need to generate relevant messages and experiences on the fly. Otherwise, all the work and segmentation becomes wasted. Imagine if you could find Sally the Soccer Mom in Indiana and Eddy the Surfer Dude in California in real time, but showed them both the same generic message that is neither timely nor targeted. You would have wasted a great opportunity to activate a customer and build positive brand health. It's exciting to think of the powerful executions that will be available in the near future as the industry continues to evolve and innovate. Tumri will be at the very center and forefront of this innovation.