RY: Without doubt the main thing is the introduction of our Real Time Bidding (RTB) platform on 1 October. Technology moves fast in this industry and we need to keep up with it so we have developed our RTB solution to offer our clients more choice.
DM: So what’s the significance of this move?
RY: It means we can dip out beyond our traditional Smaato inventory into other SSPs (Supply Side Platforms), so our advertiser partners can continue to work with the same team and the same solid technology, but it gives them much greater reach, and access to many more publishers.
We have never been in the ad network business; we have always seen ourselves from day one, 1 February 2010, as a mobile demand platform, with Smaato handling the supply. The introduction of RTB technology just makes us more efficient and increases our reach in the market.
DM: But the relationship between Smaato and Adsmobi is as it ever was?
RY: That’s right, Adsmobi is wholly owned by Smaato and our relationship with them remains exactly the same. This move just enables us to go the next level in terms of revenue generation by stepping outside of the Smaato supply ecosystem.
DM: And was it something clients were asking for?
RY: To a degree, yes, but it’s mostly a result of our desire to get access to more inventory. RTB is the technology of the future.
DM: So RTB aside, what other trends are you seeing in the mobile advertising space?
RY: There’s rich media, of course, though I’m not sure you can call it that any more, it is becoming a standard offering, and we have been spending a lot of time working with partners, using HTML5 technology to create much more engaging banners. A by-product of this is that we have launched a new product called Double Opt-in CPC. With this, the advertiser is not charged until the second click. There has been a lot of talk about accidental clicks, so here, when the consumer clicks on the banner to launch the rich media ad unit, there is no charge to the advertiser. The advertiser only pays for the second click from the rich media content.
DM: So this is your response to what some say is a growing problem of click fraud?
RY: I’m not sure it is fraud. I think it is more of a factor of small keyboards and chubby fingers and accidental clicks, but yes, this is what we are trying to address here. In a market like the mobile advertising space which is continually growing and evolving, we see it as our job to innovate, to pay more attention to detail and see how can further perfect or enhance the product. Ultimately, we want to improve the performance of every campaign.
DM: What about the advertisers? How much of it is about app downloads, how much is brands?
RY: A lot of it is brands and has been from day one. But we are now seeing bigger budgets and I think this makes sense when you take rich media into account, when the advertising looks better and is more engaging. But clearly, app developers and content providers are the bloodline of our industry and still spend a lot with us.
DM: So you talk about bigger budgets, how will your revenues look this year compared with last?
RY: We are looking at a little over 60 per cent increase over last year.
DM: And how do you see the near-term future in the space? Do you see consolidation, do you see some of the smaller players going to the wall?
RY: I think we will continue to see acquisitions big and small. Whether some of the smaller players will go to the wall, I don’t know. For the moment at least, it seems there is enough money to go around for everybody. I can’t speak for anyone else, but we are healthy and positive, with almost three years’ trading behind us.
I think over the next six – 12 months, we will see data playing more of a part. We are certainly paying more attention to the data side of the business, and to the further optimisation and performance of the rich media environment, these are the key things that will shape the next few months for us.
Ramy Yared is MD of Adsmobi