DM: So give us the low down on Qustodian please John.
JR: Sure. We are a mobile advertising service. You opt in to it and it communicates back to you with ads, coupons, surveys and offers. Users create their profile and then we match-make that with brand advertisers, and our users get a share of the money we make. They get new messages each day, between one and four if they are opted in to the Daily Deal channel, relevant to their profile. Then they get paid for clicking on the ads. They get a third of the money generated by the message, with a sixth going to the person who brought them in, if they signed up via another member. Over the past 10 months, we have generated an average of €1.1 per month for each active user. You’re never going to get rich from it, but it is a hook.
DM: What platforms does this work on?
JR: Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Java ME. There’s also a web app at m.qustodian.com
DM: OK. So where do you find your advertisers?
JR: We go to brands via the media agencies, encouraging them to bolt on a mobile component to their multimedia campaigns. This gives us access to the big budgets. They pay on a cost per engagement basis, with the rates akin to a premium multimedia messaging interaction, around 60p per click in the UK. The platform offers great reporting, so brands can try stuff and see what works.
80 per cent of film launches in Spain are now being promoted on our platform, and they get 50 – 60,000 views of the trailer each time.
We have just sold our biggest campaign ever with Rexona, a Unilever deodorant brand, running in parallel with the next 6 F1 races. We also have Pepsi, Hynudai, and around 30 other leading brands advertising on the platform.
DM: And how do you attract new users?
JR: We do a lot of direct marketing on mobile and online through banner advertising, pushing simple message: “Get offers and deals you like, and get paid as well”. We also have a member-get-member scheme that has proved very successful.
The third method is through partnerships, with the likes of Athletico Madrid, The Gadget Show and Unicef. They use the platform to communicate information about the brand, and in the case of Unicef, for example, users can then choose to take the money for themselves, or to doinate it to the charity. We are looking to do more of these partnerships in the future. Once you get to a certain size, the only way to get a step change is through big players, so we are looking at mobile operators and TV shows as potential future partners.
DM: And what are the user numbers like?
JR: Good. In Spain, we are growing at the rate of 10,000 a month, with no marketing. Within the next couple of months, we will have 250,000 people signed up. And around one third to a half of these stick around, because they like it. The money they make is incidental. In Spain, we have a daily active usage ratio of 29 per cent.
We currently have 200,000 users in Spain, wherewe launched first. In the UK, we launched in October 2011, and at the end of June, we were up to 27,000 users here, and we are targeting 100,000 by the end of the year. We’re also looking to raise money for a US launch next year.
DM: And what do you say to those people who say that paying people to look at ads just doesn’t work. They’re only looking at the ads because you’re paying them to?
JR: I don’t agree. The logical conclusion to that argument is that it’s better to force people to look at the ads. If you can get people’s attention and the economics work out, it doesn’t matter. So long as the advertisers are happy and your users are happy, that’s all that matters.
John Roberts is co-founder of Qustodian