Asher Delug is the chief executive officer of Airpush, a company that was named the “Best Mobile Ad Network” at the 2012 Mobile Excellence Awards. The company currently runs more than 10,000 live ads on more than 110,000 apps and counts with a network of more than 5,000 advertisers. In this interview, Asher describes Airpush’s unique ad formats and gives us interesting insights into trends in the mobile ad space and future opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Sramana Mitra: Asher, let’s start with giving our audience some context about you as well as about Airpush.
Asher Delug: My name is Asher Delug. I am an entrepreneur from the Los Angeles area, where I was born and raised. I founded Airpush in late 2010 on a bootstrap basis. We didn’t accept any outside capital. The company started as a mobile ad network. We connect app developers that have inventory or space in their app where they want to show ads. We connect those to mobile advertisers who want to place those ads. Today we have just over 100,000 apps using our platform and 5,000 mobile advertisers who are advertising in those apps.
SM: Who are your top competitors?
AD: The number one player in this space right now is Google – they acquired AdMob a few years ago for around $1 billion. So, they are definitely the 300-pound gorilla. Millennial Media is a public company and is considered the largest independent mobile ad network. I would say they are our number two competitor.
SM: What about InMobi?
AD: InMobi is also a competitor. They have lost market share. They used to be more prominent, but they are definitely still a contender and a competitor.
SM: Given that you are working on the mobile advertising space, let’s start with some of the trends you have been tracking and responding to in the industry. Mobile adoption has skyrocketed in the last few years. What do you see in the industry in general?
AD: There are a couple of big scenes in the industry. One is the overabundance of players. Most analysts are saying the industry is right for consolidation. I couldn’t agree with that more. Today there are dozens of mobile ad networks. In the future, that list will be considerably shorter. On the product side, the number one trend in the industry is RTB [real-time bidding]. Just as RTB took the web by storm, starting around four years ago, over the past year that trend has started in mobile. It is still a very small market, but it is the fastest growing.
The two scenes I just mentioned are related because the growth of mobile RTB is a response to the huge proliferation of mobile ad networks. What has happened is that an average advertiser who wants to promote their app, for example, they are faced with the issue of having to set up accounts on more than 100 mobile ad networks. It has become such a nightmare for that advertiser. RTB has emerged for that mobile advertiser to reach all those 100 or more mobile ad networks via the RTB exchanges.