DM: So Giancarlo, give us the low-down on TapIt please.
GM: Sure, we are in the mobile advertising space, but we have taken a different approach to the space. There are lots of mobile companies out there who are bleeding money; they’ve raised big investments, and very few are profitable. We are self-funded, doing 2bn ad impressions per month. But we don’t talk about ourselves as an ad network. We support a marketplace for publishers and advertisers to buy and sell media, and our inventory is RTB (Real Time Bidding)-enabled. “My fill rate and eCPM sucks” is a common complaint, so we enable real time auctioning of real-time ad impressions. We have also created our own DSP (Demand Side Platform). Usually, the barrier to entry is high for DSPs. They say: “Work with us, but our minimum buy is $30,000”. In addition to which, they manage it, so it’s not transparent. We have created a self-service DSP, with no minimum spend. People always claim transparency, but everyone is so cloak and dagger.
We also offer mediation on our ad server, so if you are a publisher, you have 100 ads and they will expire at a certain time and I can’t sell them tomorrow so I need to monetise them today. So our system says: “I am going to sell to InMobi, Adfonic etc., and if I have leftovers I will throw in a real time auction, and if I still have leftovers, I will do a cross-promotion”. So we so can cover every impression, and this is why I say that we are not just an ad network. We are trying to provide a 360-degree solution, and not make the barriers to entry extraordinarily high. Because on mobile, we have advertisers who will spend $5k a day on our self-service platform, and then big agencies who have to go through a big pitch to spend a few hundred dollars because mobile is so new to them, so we believe that high barriers to entry will limit the channel’s growth.
DM: So how is your inventory sold?
GM: Most of it is CPC (cost per click) or CPM (per thousand impressions) but dependent on the advertiser, we will also take CPA (acquisition) CPL (lead) or CPI (install). We have two platforms - a regular platform that runs on a semi-blind model, but where the advertiser can add and block publishers in real time, so they can look at the analytics and block all but the best ones. We are the only platform that supports that. And then we have our DSP, which is completely transparent. The value play about DSP online is that it’s transparent, but on mobile, there are a bunch of DSPs that say: “We are transparent, but you don’t know where your ad is running.”
DM: And what about numbers?
GM: We have 10,000 direct publishers who have installed our SDK, registered and plugged into every SSP (Supply Side Platform). We are taking our first- look inventory and putting it into our RTB environment to enable people to bid on it. We are plugged into every single partner and major publisher
DM: Just looking at the bigger picture, how big a barrier to brands coming into mobile advertising is the complexity of it all?
GM: I can appreciate that it can seem daunting when you see so many people seemingly touting the same thing. But it’s really not that confusing and should not let people try and confuse you. It is exactly like online, except that you are targeting devices.
You need to identify what it is you want. Are you looking for a certain type of KPI? You need to go into the campaign asking for this. So many times, the agency has not identified the KPI, whether that’s this audience or this clickthrough rate. Agencies need to make sure they have their KPIs ready. And they need to make sure that for a managed campaign, they have access to the analytics in real time, and these analytics should dive deep into the engagement times, the publishers, the placements, to enable the agency to understanding every aspect of the campaign, not just some Excel report the next day that says you spent $1,000 and got 800 clicks.
Giancarlo Maniaci is CEO of TapIt