This year, the mobile advertising business will grow to an estimated $7.29 billion, according to eMarketer.
So who are the executives that control this market?
Sure, the usual suspects make our list (folks at Apple, Google, and Facebook, etc.). But you’ll be surprised at some of names on our ranking.
Some of the most powerful players in the game are at companies you’ve never heard of.
Business Insider’s Mobile Power List 2013 also contains these surprises:
- The youngest person on the list is just 22 years old.
- Despite redefining the category with the iPhone, Apple is still regarded as a laggard in mobile advertising.
- Two companies have mobile ad businesses bigger than Facebook’s.
- Depressingly, only one women made our list this year. The business remains dominated by engineers and tech-side executives, who have traditionally been male.
The factors we considered in ranking our list are discussed in the “methodology” section at the end.
Right now, SnapChat has no ad revenue. But the company planned to bolt on a revenue stream right from the beginning, the founders have said, and advertisers will be hugely interested when it becomes available.
Browning was hired from CBS, where he was Vice President, Advertising & Operations, Mobile, in May. So clearly, advertising is on its way to SnapChat. The company is already hiring a large sales team.
The self-deleting photo messaging service will likely be used for product discovery and launch teases.
It has received $13.5 in venture capital so far, but is currently raising a round said to be worth $100 million.
This will be a big year for AppNexus to prove whether it can go mobile.
AppNexus is a giant in web advertising -- it employs 500 people. Only recently, however, did CEO Brian O'Kelley announce he was going to go 'all in' on mobile.
We understand the spend on AppNexus' mobile platform is still modest, but because of Appnexus' size and track record -- it's backed by Microsoft and its largest client is WPP -- we have to include O'Kelley on the list.
27. Jeff Plaisted, director of sales and strategy, mobile and Skype advertising at Microsoft (No. 14 last year)
First the bad news: Last year, Microsoft completely eliminated Plaisted's entire department as part of a larger move to get out of the advertising business.
But Microsoft kept Plaisted on.
Since then, Windows Phone platforms have overtaken Blackberry, growing both units shipped and market share. There's still a long way to go to catch Android or iPhone, of course.
Plaisted stays on the list because we're wondering what his -- and Microsoft's -- next mobile ad play is going to be.
Wong, who is just 22, was on our list last year because his company has a simple-but-brilliant idea: ads in mobile games (and other apps) should offer players rewards for completing levels. (Currently, most ads in games are boring irrelevant banner ads.)
The company is in the eight-figure revenue range, up from high seven figures last year.
In February, however, Interpublic Group bought a stake in the company, giving Kiip extra cash to fuel growth as well as a built-in source of new clients. 'They've been fantastic in integrating our offering into the Mediabrands portfolio. The investment has brought a lot of attention from other holding companies as well. The validation from a holding company makes our offering very much so a fixture with many mobile campaigns now,' he tells us.
He also recently joined CrossPacific Capital Partners as an advisor. He now has 45 employees, up from 30 last year.
Past clients have included Mondelēz, McDonald's, and Dairy Queen. Kiip ads are in 700 games and apps.
Kamakshi is the go-to woman for cross-device ad targeting, the task of figuring out if the person who just searched for sushi on a mobile phone is the same person who was shopping for shoes from a laptop 2 minutes prior. (And yes, everyone uses her first name rather than her multisyllabic last name).
Drawbridge has a current revenue run rate of $20 million and 35 employees. This will be a big year for Drawbridge as it attempts to scale up and prove its targeting model. Clients include Expedia, Groupon, HotelTonight, Square, and Kabam.
Drawbridge has taken total venture funding of $20.5 million.
Until May, Collins was CEO of Joule, the mobile ad division of WPP Group, the largest ad agency holding company on the planet.
He joined Adelphic, a 'predictive data platform' company, after it took $10 million in new funding from Google Ventures in December.
Previously, Adelphic had worked on solving the mobile ad targeting problem by analysing 30 different signals indicating a user's age, gender, time, and place, for instance. The company recently did a deal to get its technology baked into Vivaki's trading desk, one of the larger digital ad buyers.
The arrival of Collins, plus the extra funding, suggests that Adelphic may be gearing up to expand its client base.
Mopub's ad network, ad serving business, and real time bidding exchange just passed the magic $100 million annual spending mark. (That is pass-through revenue, however, not net revenue.)
It has 70 employees.
Nexage took another $15 million in funding last year, including $5 million from Hearst Interactive, bringing its total investment to $19.5 million. The volume of real-time bidding on its ad exchange network continued to grow also, although the company declines to give any numbers.
The company grew to 52 employees from 42 last year.
It has 300 publisher clients, including the NFL, Rovio (Angry Birds) and Reuters, and 200 buy-side clients.
Tapad, an RTB cross-device buying and analytics platform, hopes to hit $25 million in revenues this year, with a run-rate of $45 million annually thereafter. The company believes it will become profitable in the second half of 2013.
It has more than 60 employees and offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, LA, Miami, and San Francisco. It has taken a total of $8.3 million in funding.
More interestingly, it created a pro-privacy mobile ad opt-out system for users who do not want to be targeted. The system is supported by Nexage and TRUSTe -- meaning it's basically mobile ad privacy delivered at scale.
The company also launched a cross-device video media buying platform earlier this year. 'Cross device' -- meaning the ability to place ads on phones, tablets or desktops, and compare the results in an apples-to-apples fashion, is one of the hottest areas in mobile advertising right now.
Gwozdz's profile has grown since last year: He is a judge at this year's Cannes Lions, for instance. The company also filed a Form D equity offering disclosure late last year which placed the company's revenues at $25 - $100 million annually. (A previous Form D in 2011 put revenues at $5 - $25 million. IDC estimates Mojiva's U.S. revenues are ~$30 million.
Mojiva took a $7 million round of funding at the end of last year, for a total of $42.3 million since it was founded. It also started a tablet-only ad network. Mojiva's Mocean Mobile ad serving platform has clients such as AT&T, Vodafone, Microsoft, Time, RIM, NBC, and HP.
The company has its HQ in New York and offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Detroit, Chicago and London. It has ~105 employees.
Gwozdz was formerly vp/ad sales and a founder of DoubleClick, the web ad company acquired by Google for $3 billion in 2008.
Somo is perhaps best known as the ad agency for Groupon and Disney's mobile products. The company also has a buy-side mobile media platform.
Revenues in 2012 were $18 million. Projected revenue for 2013 is $40 million. Headcount at the end of the year is expected to be 150, (currently 135). Somo has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, London, Berlin and Singapore.
Uminski was previously the CTO of Overture Europe, which was bought by Yahoo for $1.6 billion in 2003.
More than 100 million people have downloaded the Weather Channel app. It's one of very few apps that a) everyone wants; b) everyone checks daily; and c) no one ever deletes.
That's why Weather is one of the biggest mobile media ad businesses on the planet: It has 230 people in its digital division. The Wall Street Journal says Weather Channel ad revenue is probably 55% or 60% of the company's total revenue, and mobile is approaching 20% of the ad revenue.
The LA Times says total revenues are 'north of $500 million.' That would make Weather Channel's mobile revenue somewhere north of $55 million, assuming the WSJ's percentages are accurate. IDC estimates Weather's mobile revenues at ~$60 million.
Zynga has had some troubles recently -- layoffs of 520 staff after a collapse in revenue.
But amid the rubble is an apparently healthy ad business -- $34 million in Q1 2013, up from $28 million the year before.
Zynga even launched a new mobile video ad platform recently. Whether it will be enough to turn things round at the company is an open question. But it's noteworthy that despite its troubles, Zynga remains one of the larger mobile ad businesses on the planet.
Bell has said publisher network Jumptap expected revenue to come in higher than $75 million in 2012, and that the firm would file for an IPO in 2013. IDC recently estimated its 'gross' revenue (as opposed to the net revenue the company actually keeps) at ~$90 million.
Jumptap took $27.5 million in funding last year, for a total of $122 million in investment.
rumours that Amazon would buy Jumptap appear to have wilted.
Tapjoy's app publisher network drove more than $100 million in revenue last year, and the company has taken more than $70 million in funding.
But in Q1 2013, disaster struck and the company laid off about 20 of its roughly 200-strong workforce.
Wadsworth, a former Disney exec, was named the new CEO. This year he must get Tapjoy back on the growth path.
Opera Mediaworks booked Q1 2013 revenue of $18.2 million and projects $100 million-plus by the end of the year.
Opera manages more than $1 billion in ad spend within its platform. Employee headcount is 200 globally, and the company expects to staff up to 275-280 by year's end.
Millennial's net revenues (after pass-through revenue) increased 80% to $72 million in 2012. Its 2013 guidance will be for $270 million in pass-through revenue (which implies something like $112 million in net revenue).
Perhaps more importantly, Millennial has $134 million in cash on its balance sheet -- and the world is waiting to see what Palmieri will buy with that. He has hinted at something in emerging markets.
In sum, with 400 employees, Millennial is one of the bigger players in the space and is poised to take a significant leap in size if it acquires another company.
Millennial closed on its deal to acquire mobile RTB platform Metaresolver earlier this year.
It went public in 2012. Its stock, initially offered at $13, has since sunk to the ~$8 level.
With 2012 sales of $270 million, up 43%, Velti is one of the top players in the space. The company's up there with Pandora, Millennial, and Twitter.
But it has been a tough few months for Moukas. Q1 2013 revenues collapsed to $41 million, down 21%, amid an asset writedown, a divestiture of operations and a reorganization of the company. Velti also laid off 20% of it staff, and now employs only 900 people globally. Mobile Marketer blamed turmoil in Greece and the rest of Europe as a driver of the decline. It also noted that Velti cut its guidance:
... Velti is projecting sales of $255 million to $280 million for 2013, downgraded from $399 million.
Velti stock, which once traded above $10 in 2012, is now worth just $1.76. Some have whispered that the company may reconsider staying in its fancy new San Francisco offices.
The only good news for Moukas is that the company launched Velti Media, a buy-side platform that competes with Google and Millennial Media.
It also signed seven-figure deals with American Express, Ford and AT&T, Panasonic, Vodafone, Orange, and Coca Cola.
Revenue on Apple's iAd system jumped from $95 million to $125 million in 2012, according to IDC. It now handles 15% of display ad revenue, per IDC.
That's a modest slice of the mobile universe for Apple's size, but things got more interesting recently with the news that Teresi would oversee iAd as it fuelled Apple's new iRadio music streaming product, to challenge Pandora, in the coming months.
Until January, Teresi was vp/general manager for media solutions at Adobe. Prior to that he was chief revenue officer at Quantcast and an svp at Yahoo!.
Twitter will do $308 million in mobile ad sales in 2013, according to eMarketer.
This year, Bain introduced a series of new products to tie Twitter more closely to TV. (People tend to tweet to their followers while they're watching.)
Twitter Amplify is a video sharing product for advertisers, Twitter TV Ad Targeting is specifically for advertisers who want to leverage TV ad buys against Twitter watchers. And Twitter's measurement and analytics deals with Nielsen and Bluefin Labs will make the platform's measurement more robust.
In all, this is the year Twitter's mobile ad platform took a series of huge leaps ahead.
InMobi aims to be the largest mobile ad network in China by the end of the year.
It's best known in the U.S. as the recipient of a staggering $216 million in venture funding, $200 million of which came from Softbank. The company has been on an acquisition spree with the cash, snapping up Overlay Media, MMTG Labs, and Appstores.com in the last year.
Some back-of-the-envelope maths suggests InMobi's annual revenues could be ~$372 million annually. IDC puts InMobi's U.S. revenue alone at ~$40 million.
InMobi has has 800+ employees in offices in Bangalore, Johannesburg, London, Nairobi, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seoul, Singapore, and Tokyo.
Pandora is massive in mobile advertising: Its Q1 for fiscal 2014 saw mobile revenue of $83.9 million, up 97% year-over-year. That means Pandora could book more than $400 million in mobile ad revenue this year.
Previous to Pandora, Trimble was the EVP of sales at Glam Media.
Wright leads the sales strategy and execution of Amazon's mobile and tablet advertising globally. He joining Amazon in 2011 and has built up Amazon Media Group's advertising platform.
Last year, we described Amazon as the sleeping giant of mobile advertising, whose customer purchase data was waiting to be tapped. The giant appears to have woken up:
Some estimate that Amazon gets 8% of its sales, or $5 billion, from mobile devices. Products shown in Kindle ads are five times more likely to be purchased, a company executive said recently.
Google, via its Android phone platform, is simply the whale of the industry: Google will take an estimated $4 billion in mobile ad revenues this year, according to eMarketer, and 93.3% of U.S. mobile search ad dollars.
Google will take $350 million in ad revenue from YouTube alone, according to Bloomberg.
Spero launched the Full Value of Mobile Calculator this year, a new tool to calculate what mobile ads are worth, based on the revenue they delivered.
We polled a wide selection of executives in the mobile advertising business. We asked them about the revenues and employee headcounts of their companies, and then asked them to confidentially nominate two executives from different or competing companies that they feel are the most influential. The list expanded in size this year as we got better visibility into this largely opaque world.
We then considered the following factors in ranking our Mobile Power List:
- Revenues: Most companies don't disclose their revenues and those that do sometimes don't break out the portion of sales attributable to mobile ads. Where revenue numbers are available it factored heavily in favour of the executive whose operation generated them. We were also influenced by IDC's terrifically useful mobile market share reports. Our logic: Important companies have significant revenues to talk about. Companies who want their revenues kept 'private' often turn out to be small fry.
- Employees: Staff headcount isn't a perfect proxy for revenues but it's better than nothing.
- VC funding: Again, not a perfect proxy for market size but in general a greater amount of investment funding implies a greater potential market size.
- Innovation: It's a fast-moving business, and although some companies are still quite small, they appear to have original ideas that make them much more influential than their size suggests.
- Best representative: Obviously, there are many other executives in the mobile ad business who could have been named on this list. We took a selection from the various sectors of the business -- ad agencies, exchange networks, media sellers and so on -- and tried to pick the person whose business is best represents the sector.
- General clout: Some companies are simply sexier than others.
Do you think we missed someone who should be on this list? Tell us in the comments (below) or email [email protected]
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