Jim Payne is CEO at MoPub, a mobile monetization platform.
AdExchanger.com: Looking back at your experience at Admob, what's coming in handy from those days at MoPub today?
JP: Admob was probably the best place to learn about the nuances and complexities of mobile. I can't think of a better place to have been to get that front‑line, on-the-ground, expertise in mobile. We lived the pain‑points of the mobile developers and advertisers and really see what wasn't working across both.
It feels like there are quite a few mobile ad servers these days. How is MoPub going to differentiate?
There are a handful of mobile ad servers out there. I would say our differentiator is that we're building a comprehensive platform for the mobile publisher. So we're trying to build something that is both easy to use, easy to integrate, easy to adopt in a self‑service kind of mode. But then also something you can extend and customize to your own needs. Our mission is about making a mobile publisher's apps turn into businesses.. There's enough that's different about mobile which justifies having a mobile-specific, mobile-oriented solution, and that's what we provide.
What about prospective clients who are currently contracted with Google and a few others. How do you break into that market?
It’s not a market that we have to break into, honestly, because there's a whole generation of publishers who've grown up specifically with mobile or have led with mobile. So if you think about it, there's a wide range of companies out there that have household names at this point. Those companies only have a mobile application, so they don't have an existing entrenched Double‑Click installation or particular workflows around DoubleClick or Open X. They're basically making a technology platform decision from scratch based on their needs on the mobile platform, so having a solution that was really born in mobile makes a lot of sense.
In terms of the formats that MoPub offers/serves - do you think of it as "display advertising?"
Yes. It's primarily display. Search advertising works just as well on mobile as it does on the desktop, so there's not really much that's different there. But if you think about the interstitial opportunity, rich media, video, or a very powerful, engrossing advertising experience, a lot of that is facilitated and made possible by mobile. Whereas, that wasn't really true for the desktop.
Is there, down the road, an opportunity to go into other digital channels – besides mobile - considering what you're doing today?
Mobile's big enough that I think that's probably where we'll be focused for a long time. Certainly, even just the tablet, it's considered mobile. But there's a lot of nuances and differences with respect to the tablet and different needs of the publisher with that unique form factor.
What can you say about analytics capabilities and where you can go with that at MoPub?
It’s interesting that you bring that up, because advertiser-side analytics is a real problem in mobile today. How do we measure the impact of our spend in mobile across maybe traditional offline channels. But even before we get to interesting things like that, just the basic nuts and bolts of measuring impressions, clicks, and conversions on mobile is fraught with problems. What we're finding is that advertisers who spend across ad networks have a hard time figuring out what spend is actually working for them and making sure they're getting what they're paying for. The basic things don't work that well – it’s a real need that we're hearing from advertisers today.
Overall, what's surprising you about the mobile space today?
I think what surprises me is just how fast it moves. The rate and pace of adoption of smartphone devices and apps and the fact that a company - like Instagram, for example - can grown to millions and millions of users in a period of months.
And that's also been true for MoPub, too. We've got to a very large publisher footprint and a lot of impressions being trafficked through our platform after only five months. So very rapid adoption. And the space moves so fast that you can make changes quickly and easily.
Is there a unique or specific opportunity with tablets?
Yes, I think the tablets, obviously, are game‑changing. The iPad is changing the game for everyone, and the people who are paying the most attention are traditional print publishers, whether it be books or print media like Condé Nast.
The ability for those guys to basically reproduce the magazine consumption experience and the economics of that on a device that is wildly popular. It makes it much easier to subscribe to and acquire content and also monetize in very sophisticated ways is a really unprecedented opportunity.
12 to 18 months from now, any particular milestones that you would like Mopub to have accomplished by then?
There are two main things that we're trying to do over the next year, and this is why we raised our Series A round of financing last month. First, we want to grow the team. So we're basically hiring aggressively here in San Francisco, and in New York, across all of our functions. Engineering, business development, account management, operations, products – so, growing the team from today’s 15 people to probably triple that size by next year.
That's a lot of growth, and that's my number one priority. But also, we are building this business to be a revenue generating business, and we need to start to put some points on the board with respect to revenue. We've done that to a modest extent, but we really want to get the story nailed down in Q4/Q1 next year.