Dave Williams, is CEO, president and co-founder of BLiNQ Media.
AdExchanger.com: As a co-founder of 360i, were you surprised that Dentsu acquired 360i's parent, Innovation Interactive?
DW: I was not surprised by this because I know Innovation Interactive was looking to expand its global footprint, diversification of service offerings and revenue opportunities.
What made you start BLiNQ Media? And is there any special meaning with the spelling of the company - why B-L-i-N-Q?
I left 360i in mid-2007 with the interest in starting another Internet marketing venture. When I left, I became quickly intrigued by the social media space due to the large amount of profile data available for ad targeting combined with the massive shift in social network usage and ad impression availability. I was especially fascinated by the auction-based media buying dynamics because it reminded me a lot about the early days of search. The name BLiNQ was conceived based on our focus of rapidly delivering large-scale ad campaigns by making use of sophisticated analytics—thus the use of the “Q” in the name. The lower case “i” is used to highlight our focus on interactive.
What problem is BLiNQ Media solving?
We make it easy for big brands and agencies to produce break-through results on social networks, such as Facebook. Right now, it is very difficult to effectively manage and optimize large-scale social media ad campaigns on Facebook and other social networks. We are solving this challenge with a powerful and easy-to-use media management solution. Our technology solution is called BLiNQ Ad Manager (BAM) and is in private beta release right now.
Any similarity between what you're doing and say an ad network of social media websites or a demand-side platform buying impressions from social sites?
Our focus is on placing and optimizing advertising on the premium social networks, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and others, while providing significant control over campaign targeting by using available profile data. What we do is different from other ad networks and demand-side platforms. They typically deliver ads on application inventory and other second- and third-tier inventory sources. Our advertising platform offers transparency and control not typically provided by these other systems.
How is BLiNQ addressing the de-coupling of data from media?
Through our BAM technology, we can easily match the most relevant creative against the most relevant target and then optimize and report performance based on this. We store this performance data on our end for real-time reporting and optimization purposes.
Looking around the display ecosystem and given your company's social vision, what is your view on Facebook's potential in display advertising? Can it be the big player in display ads someday?
We think that the potential of Facebook’s ad platform is massive. Given some of the recent changes it has made (i.e. making it very easy for publishers to integrate with Facebook), we believe that this opens up tremendous external advertising opportunities. We believe that we are very well positioned to take advantage of this opportunity, if and when Facebook allows advertisers to place ads on other third-party websites.
BLiNQ Media is in Atlanta. What are some of the benefits being in Atlanta for a digital media company?
I founded 360i in Atlanta in 1998 and am very well connected in the community, which helps from a new business and recruitment perspective. There is a wealth of experienced digital marketing professionals in Atlanta to provide us with a very talented recruitment pool to help launch a company. Atlanta has one of the largest interactive marketing organizations, the Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association (AiMA), which I have been involved with for more than 10 years. Additionally, there are some excellent academic institutions: Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, and University of Georgia. Additionally, Atlanta is home to many Fortune-500 companies, including AT&T, ING, Home Depot, Coca-Cola and others. This provides us great access and visibility to a number of business leaders.
How is your search background at 360i helping you today? Why is this experience relevant?
We find that our search marketing experience is very relevant to social media advertising. Instead of keywords, we are focused on user profile data for ad targeting and optimization. This experience provides tremendous value in understanding the interactive media ecosystem and how social media best fits into the overall media mix. We are applying not only what we have learned from search, but also what we have learned from social to help marketers produce break-through results.
How does the BLiNQ media pricing model work?
We typically charge on a performance basis, what we call Cost Per Social Action (CPSA). Ideally, we like to price campaigns based on results achieved within the social network, such as cost per fan, cost per application installation, etc. We also offer other more typical pricing models such as CPM and CPC.
In terms of funding, do you anticipate seeking venture capital?
No. We plan to self-fund the business and work with local angel investors as needed.
How is the company funded today?
The business is currently 100 percent funded by management, employees and the work that we perform for our customers.
Twelve months from now, what milestones would you like to have seen BLiNQ Media accomplish?
We would like to have multiple large-scale Facebook advertisers, brands and agencies using our BAM system and working directly with us to help them optimize their social media advertising. We obviously want to service U.S.–based campaigns, but given that Facebook is a global platform, we also want to be running large-scale, multi-national campaigns. We are very excited about this space and look forward to seeing how it continues to evolve.