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Helping Publishers Monetize Premium Ad Inventory: isocket CEO John Ramey (Part 1)

Posted on Thursday, Jan 5th 2012

John Ramey is the founder and CEO of isocket, a company that offers premium ad inventory solutions. Prior to founding isocket, he was one of the founders of Maven Ventures, which offered direct marketing software for real estate investment. He founded his first company, Lythargic Media, during high school. He studied business economics at Indiana University.

Sramana: John, let’s start with the beginning of your story. Where were you born and raised?

John Ramey: I was born in Tampa, Florida, and spent the first 12 years of my life there before moving to a suburb of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I was fortunate to live in areas that had unique pilot programs in their school systems. Starting in elementary school, I was in different classes that most public schools offered. I was able to spend more time learning about math and computer science. The high school I went to offered computer science courses, which was unusual in 2000 to 2004. I took full-time courses on C and C++ along with Basic, PHP, and Java. Their goal was that students graduate from high school with the equivalent of a BS in computer science.

Sramana: What did you do after you graduated from high school?

John Ramey: I actually started my first business while I was in high school. I started a consultancy. I had been very interested in computers from a young age and had started to program even before those classes I took in high school. Around 2000, a lot of small and medium businesses wanted to get on the Internet, so they approached me to build their websites.

My business scaled from there. I brought on a couple of my friends to act as a consultancy group. SMBs would hire us, and we would do everything from building brochures, online marketing, and websites. Our work was primarily local. I kept that business going until the end of high school. When high school ended I went to college, and that business ended.

Sramana: Where did you go to college?

John Ramey: I went to school at Indiana University. I made the choice to study something other than computer science, so I studied business economics. I went to Indiana for their entrepreneurship and business economic programs and attended from 2004 to 2008.

Sramana: Did you finish college, or were you hit by the entrepreneurial bug while you were in college?

John Ramey: I was hit again but halfway through my freshman year when I got bored. I met a friend at college who was also very entrepreneurial, and we decided to start a company in early 2005. We spun up a business that developed marketing programs for real estate. We made a process and marketing system for people who were doing foreclosures and flipping properties. We ran that business during college and it went well. We turned a profit, and it was toward the end of that business that I realized how difficult it was to find and buy advertising.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Helping Publishers Monetize Premium Ad Inventory: isocket CEO John Ramey
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Way to go John! Very cool article.

sogwiz Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 10:43 AM PT

As a publisher, I love the concept behind iSocket. They have done a phenomenal job building out a platform that can help with the bookkeeping aspects of online media buying. However, If you look at small to medium size publishers, their pain point is not the "manual stuff" that is associated with the direct sales process; their issue is that they dont, and will probably never, have a sales team that can go and sell directly. There is a discovery problem, where the publishers cant reach out to the agencies (resource constraint), and the buyers dont know where to find these niche properties. This connection is being made by the ad networks right now. If iSocket can become the platform/marketplace that facilitates this connection, I think all publishers will jump on-board and start listing their inventory, irrespective of whether iSocket helps them with the "manual stuff" or not.

Also, the "demand" side of the business is the most important component cause at the end of the day, you cant expect the smaller pubs to sell by themselves and only use iSocket for orders, fulfillment, invoicing and reporting. By plugging into the DSPs and Media Buying Desks, if iSocket can get buyers to find these publishers and start helping pubs get leads and higher CPMs, they've got a great business. Thus, for the marketplace to be successful, I think, publisher joining would need to equate to money flowing.

Vikrant Mathur Monday, February 13, 2012 at 3:25 PM PT

Yes, depending on the size of the publisher, this is true. iSocket is finding success in slightly larger publishers (like TechCrunch, which they talk about extensively).
But for the bulk of the smaller publisher, the problem of unmonetized or undermonetized ad inventory continues.

Sramana Mitra Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 10:09 AM PT