He discussed the new role and its implications with AdExchanger.com.
AdExchanger.com: What attracted you to the start‑up world?
MS: It's interesting. I think most people have gotten to know me from the agency world. But I'm actually from the start‑up world, and that's how I got to the agency world. I've been in the digital media business in one way, shape, or form actually since the late '90s. I often say that I grew up in sales at L90, which was an ad network in the late '90s. After that stop I founded Resolution Media, a search marketing agency, and joined Omnicom when they acquired the business in 2005.
So, what is it about your Ominicom experience that may have inspired your interest in Tap.Me?
Having spent the last couple years helping Ominicom launch Accuen, I’ve paid very close attention to the changing landscape of how digital media is bought and sold. I strongly believe in the power of automated and open platforms, the power of data, and how those things enable new marketplaces to open up for premium brands. So ultimately, I see that same potential here in the game space for a couple of specific reasons.
One is the huge increase in mobile penetration via smartphones and tablets. The second thing, which is less obvious to many, is that games are actually the most downloaded type of application to either your smartphone or your tablet.
So you've got a massive audience playing games and that audience is now both male and female with heavy penetration in the 18-34 age group. And today’s marketplace for doing game advertising from a premium brand perspective is very nascent. What the team has done at Tap.Me is build an ad experience which is so fundamentally different than just another banner ad or pop up, that I think it has a huge potential of scale. The Tap.Me team has done a great job of looking at the brand as part of the gameplay in a way that's easy to execute. And ultimately, this is just the beginning of what the company can be and develop.
Where's the connection with audience buying for you?
So, no doubt in mobile there is still a lot of work to be done in identifying a specific user; the device ID methods are being questioned. And there's still a lot that I have to learn in that space.
But one of the interesting things that Tap.Me has created, and which enables high quality targeting, is a contextual mapping model. It allows our technology to look at the metadata within any game, understand what that action is and map that action to a specific brand attribute.
For instance, we can approach brands that consider endurance or speed key brand attributes and provide that brand with the opportunity across all of our games to only sponsor endurance and speed related power-ups.
I’m not ultimately suggesting that audience level targeting isn’t important, but rather that along they way there we aren’t void of other sophisticated targeting options.
So, in your opinion, is there an ecosystem in this mobile gaming world that is similar to the display ad tech world?
Matt: Yes, but I don't think it is as developed. It can be similar. We think of ourselves as being a key piece of tying that ecosystem together.
We are focused first and foremost on what is our custom ad product and building a large network of game developers that integrate with our technology so that we can create a significant mass of monthly unique reach in order to make that product scalable.
But we're just as focused on helping build technology for these game developers to help be a monetization engine that also ties together the right analytics on gameplay to understand how to maximize and execute on their revenue opportunities from advertising.
Looking back at your OMG experience, what's a big takeaway for you after driving Accuen in its early years?
A couple things. One thing that pops to mind is how necessary it is for the digital media ecosystem, however broadly defined, to have the types of tools and platforms necessary that make transactions in the industry easier. I think that's a huge takeaway for me.
A second takeaway is around the notion of targeting and precision of media. Whether it be audience, context or a combination thereof, we have an opportunity in this space to focus on using targeting rules and data in a way to help make media more effective.
What do you think the outcome is five or 10 years from now for Accuen and that strategy?
I think you will continue to see separation of buying and planning in the digital media world where the marketplace enables planners to spend more and more time understanding who they want to reach, what are the right environments to reach those people and work with buying groups to help execute that strategy. I think that's going to lead to much more interesting opportunities across the industry.
Getting back to TapMe, what are some near‑term goals? Hiring? Go-to-market strategy?
Well I'm joining a startup but I'm not joining on day one, which is great. The product is live. We are on a good number of games already. Our platform has seen a total of about two million unique users to date, and that ramp is really skyrocketing right now. So in terms of a priority perspective, there's a couple things we need to do. We'll be out in market raising more capital very soon in order to build our team, and that team will certainly include a sales team and additional development resources.
Additionally, our focus is on working with the game development community to make sure they very clearly understand our current solution and our future plans. We’d like to as quickly as possible surpass 1 million monthly unique users on our platform.
By John Ebbert