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It’s All About Relevance -
Mobile Advertising JumpTap Style

danstand.gifJumpTap is one of the leaders in mobile search and advertising. Their operator-branded solution is commercially deployed on 9 mobile operators in North America and Europe. In this interview, JumpTap CEO Dan Olschwang explains the JumpTap approach to search, and how they provide advertisers with some of the most advanced targeting and profiling capabilities available today.

Hi Dan. Could you first give us an idea of how JumpTap search differs from the search we see from the internet incumbents?

We approach the paradigm differently – we start from the user’s need. The need for a mobile user is much more actionable then when you are on a PC. They care more about accuracy, and less about variety. And so we built our algorithms to support that.

An internet search engine result might come back with “Results 1 to 10 of 500,000″. What you really want on mobile is just 5 or 7 key results that are closely tailored to your profile.

And how do you achieve this?
We have mechanisms that use collaborative filtering and analytics to help express the query better. These are engines that analyze mass-market behavior and look for correlations. And if a subscriber has used JumpTap search previously, these engines also take into account their past behavior.

As an example, suppose you had browsed sites for Jaguar and Mercedes cars. If you then search on “BMW”, we can be pretty sure that you are looking for a site with BMW car specifications, not screensavers or BMW corporate financial statements. This lets us bring you very quickly to the right page you are looking for. So this is based both on your personal history as well as references from other people.

OK, let’s talk about advertising. What sort of advertising do you support?

JumpTap offers a full suite of advertising possibilities.

To start, we support all formats of search advertising, and there is an online system that lets you bid on keywords. It’s a bit more sophisticated than a typical system for internet ads, as it has the capability to let you target the ads based on various factors such as type of phone, type of screen, operating system, or functionality of the phone.

We also offer all formats of display advertising – including banner ads, interstitials, and sponsorship packages. We have a full ad-serving system to handle these.

Are you able to do any targeting or profiling of these ads?
We have very strong targeting capability, based on a couple of factors.

First, as discussed above, we have a very good understanding of what a user is looking for. This clearly helps us serve more relevant ads.

Second, we run in a “white label” fashion, in other words we run within an operator’s site. Because of this, most operators are willing to share with us some of the customer data that they have in the network, and we can use this to better understand the customer.

Combined, these let us target very effectively.


What sorts of data are the operators willing to share?
Of course it depends on the specific operator, but the information can be demographic, phone type, location, credit history, level of spend, etc. But it varies immensely from operator to operator.

And what about behavioral data, what do you collect?
Again, it depends on the operator, but at a minimum we always know what a subscriber has searched for and where they have browsed, because this goes through our system. We link this information to the customer phone number, and we can use it when its time to serve an ad.

To continue the example above, let’s say that you have browsed several times on the BMW site. Our system would remember this, and so if BMW ran a special promotion, we would know to serve these BMW ads to you, even if that day you weren’t doing a search on “BMW”, but instead were perhaps browsing on the Manchester United site.

The right ad at the right place at the right time

Does JumpTap sell all the ads yourself?
We do sell ads directly, but we also link to other ad networks so we can use their ad inventory, as long as its relevant.

As an example, if one of the other ad networks has sold an ad to a beer company, and we have a user that we know is interested in beer, we can get the ad from the other ad network and serve it. We are doing that today.

However, the key thing is that we are very focused on relevancy – we don’t serve an ad if its not relevant.

So far we have talked about “on-deck” world, in other words on the mobile operator’s site. Can you offer advertising for “off-deck” publishers?
Yes, we have recently started working a lot with publishers. It is very similar, except that usually they have less data about their customers than an operator. In general, depending on the network, we can still get the phone number, and so the targeting we’ve discussed above still works well.

Can you give us some idea of how well this type of targeted approach works?
dan_o_quote1.gifIt works very well – we have phenomenally high click through rates, engagement rates, and recollection rates. But we feel it is too early for us to make an across the board statement like we generate double or 10 times the ROI. We have a lot of stats – but the variance between different campaigns is so big, and the goals of the campaigns are so different, its too early to give averages.

But I can tell you that even though our prices have doubled since the beginning of the year, we have customers that are coming back to sign up for much bigger, longer campaigns – because they make money.

At the beginning of year the average budget we saw was about $5 to $10K. Now it is usually $15K to $20K per month, but for 6 to 9 months. So an average total commitment has grown enourmously from $10K to something in the region of $150K.

On a more general level, are there any significant factors that you feel are holding back the growth of mobile advertising?
dan_o_quote2.gifMobile operators, brands and agencies are commonly thought of as “daring” industries that like to experiment. But I think they are in fact not very daring companies, and they are really putting very small resources, in terms of people and money, to real experimentation and to push the boundaries. There is huge potential in mobile advertising, but the rate of progress will be determined by how daring these players are.

I can understand why the operators might want to go slow, they have a lot to lose if there is a bad customer experience. But why the advertisers and the agency community go slow is beyond me.

What advice would you give to an advertiser that is thinking about getting into mobile advertising?

jumptap_dan-small.gifExperiment, don’t be afraid to make some mistakes. The cost is low, and the potential is very high. Do it today and you can be ahead – if you wait a couple of years, you will be way behind. The development trend is like that of internet advertising, but the pace of change is twice is fast.

Especially for an agency that wants to be perceived as a thought leader, you need to move now.

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