Sramana Mitra: What do you charge and how do you charge for the Zumobi Platform?
John SanGiovanni: On the publishing side we have two different business models. One is what I call co-publishing, where we do a revenue share with the publisher. This is great, because we have aligned incentives and objectives around getting high-quality and high-dollar advertising into these campaigns. The second model is that we will put the ZBi technology into any app, whether we built it or not, and will do that in exchange for a standard “per CPM rich media” fee – which is a common model for ad technology.
SM: In each case, who is doing the advertising sales?
JS: The answer is both. We have a direct sales team and the publishers have a very sophisticated sales team of their own. We collaborate with the publishers. In some cases we will sell a campaign across many ZBi apps, and in some cases we will power a campaign that the publisher sold inside their app.
SM: And on the advertising side?
JS: On the advertising side this is all structured as media. Native mobile advertising is so new – this is the Wild West of this new category of advertising. To make it incredibly easy to price and sell, we basically charge a standard media fee, just as if they were buying media. We build the creative services and the traffic costs into that.
SM: Who do you consider as competitors in this space?
JS: There is not really another platform that is doing native mobile in this way. As you mentioned in the beginning, a couple of the publishers have started to activate native products, predominantly in web. We don’t really consider them competitors, because that is their own site. In fact, we would love, to the extent that their native advertising strategies grow, for them to consider the ZBi platform to power those same native experiences on their mobile apps.
SM: I would like to do a few thought experiments on that with you. Let’s say someone came and said, “We want to work with you. We want to plug your platform into our content boosting feature.” On Facebook pages today, for example, they allow boosting of the content. They just put the content in the in-stream both on the web and on mobile. Let’s say they told you, “You can help us augment this process.” How would you do that?
JS: We have a process for that. We call it a brand integration study. Since ZBi, we have a team that will work with the publisher and say, “We are excited about native. In fact we already started selling some content marketing, but we have no idea how to do this on our app. Our app has millions of users, but it doesn’t have any way for us to take this content, render it, track it and serve it as an ad campaign in mobile.” Step number one is the forging of a business agreement with the publisher. Step number two is taking the app and having our user interface team do a brand integration study, where we come back to them with recommendations about how to blend in native content into that app, what the design changes are that we recommend, and what the placement changes are that we recommend – from our experience of how to create apps that perform very well.
It is a very thoughtful and rigorous user experience study of their app, specifically around mobile advertising. In phase three the publisher downloads the ZBi SDK, which is a really nice package piece of technology – very easy for them to drop in. Then they take our specification for brand integration inside their app and implement it. Once it is integrated, we do sales training and support on the back end.
SM: We are a blog. We are other things, too, but what we are working on together at the moment is web content. The reason we know so much about Facebook content promotions on Facebook pages is because it has been very convenient for us to boost some of our great blog content. That is what is driving our Facebook marketing effectively. We don’t do anything on mobile yet. We don’t have a mobile app of our own. Obviously, content marketing puts people with good content in a privileged position. How would you advise them to take their content and do cool things with it?