Photo: Jim Edwards / BI / Company documents
Who are the most important people in mobile advertising? Sure, there are executives from the usual suspects on our list (Apple, Google, Zynga, etc.) but you’ll be surprised at some of names that made our ranking. Some of the most powerful players in the game are at companies that most people have never heard of.Mobile advertising spend reached about $5.3 billion in 2011 and could grow to $11.6 billion in 2012, according to estimates published by IAB and Strategy Analytics. It’s the fastest-growing part of the ad industry—and yet it remains relatively mysterious: The industry lacks standards; many of the most important companies don’t disclose their revenues, size or reach; and many clients don’t really know how to utilise mobile ad campaigns properly.
One common theme emerged in our research for this list: The mobile ad space today feels a lot like the web ad space did in 1997. (For example, one executive at a large digital ad agency we talked to said that only half his clients were running campaigns in mobile).Business Insider Advertising’s Mobile Power List 2012 also contains these surprises:
- There are no women on the list—the top echelons of mobile advertising is a boys’ club, apparently. (You can see our list of the most powerful women in mobile advertising here.)
- Our youngest person on the list is just 21 years old.
- Apple’s role in mobile advertising is a lot less important than you might think given the dominance of the iPhone.
The factors we considered in ranking our list are discussed in the “methodology” section at the end.
This 21-year-old's company only has about 30 employees and his revenue is no more than 'high seven figures,' but his business model is the kind of original thinking that the mobile space--littered with ignorable ads--sorely needs.
When consumers play a mobile game or use a an app with levels or stages in it, Kiip's 'ads' will reward users for completing those levels. Wong believes that as soon as advertisers learn to offer rewards that are relevant to the game and the demographics playing them--Amazon gift cards for every 15 thumbs up inside Pandora, for instance, or matchday tickets for fantasy league players--then consumers will respond by only playing games and using apps that contain Kiip-enabled rewards.
His clients include Pepsi, Best Buy, Carls Jr, Popchips, Dr Pepper and Disney. Kiip is inside 300 apps and 30 million devices on both Android and Apple platforms.
Cunningham employs more than 60 employees in four offices across the U.S. and sells a product called 'adtivity,' or 'social activity advertising.' These ads are only served during the natural breaks in apps and games between activities so that the activity itself isn't rudely interrupted by the advertiser.
Nearly 100 different brands have used adtivity including American Express, Coca-Cola and Nestle on 100 publishers' apps.
Mojiva has a monthly reach of more than 1 billion devices worldwide, with 270 million of those in the US. The company has its HQ in New York and offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Detroit, Chicago and London.
Gwozdz was formerly vp/ad sales and a founder of DoubleClick, the web ad company acquired by Google for $3 billion in 2008.
Tribal DDB (the interactive arm of DDB) has about 10,000 employees worldwide, roughly 1,000 of which are involved in creating mobile campaigns. Volkswagen and McDonald's are its showcase clients--Gunning says that McDonald's is so advanced as a client in the space there isn't a mobile format the fast food chain isn't using somewhere in the world. (Location-based impulse buys are a sweet spot for mobile marketers. it turns out).
Previously, as vp/general manager of Tribal DDB Chicago, Gunning worked with clients such as Lowe's, Johnson & Johnson and State Farm Insurance.
This is the man who most wants the Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone to succeed. The device has gotten rave reviews--it really is beautiful to use--but it has a tiny share of the handset market compared to iPhone and Android. Plaisted got a big boost recently when Millennial Media developed a new ad-based software development kit for Windows Phone after noting that the Windows app marketplace had grown to 80,000 developers.
Plaisted previously worked in sales and management at AT&T/Lucent, SBC and the tech start-up InfoBlox. He joined Microsoft in 2003, and has managed integrated, cross-platform initiatives with clients like McDonald's, Kellogg's, Unilever, and Ford Motor.
WPP Group is the largest ad agency holding company on the planet, and Joule is its mobile ad division. In theory, every WPP client can now buy mobile campaigns through Joule. Headquartered in New York, Joule has expanded aggressively in the last 12 months, acquiring or opening offices in Los Angeles, China, France and Australia.
Joule offers a full range of mobile marketing services from campaign strategy through implementation and measurement, and has the ability to execute campaigns across all mobile channels.
Nexage is a massive mobile advertising exchange that claims to have the market's most advanced real-time bidding platform. It has 42 employees, took $9 million in funding between 2009 and 2010, and another round of $10 million this year. Nexage is 'the most mature, most capitalised and most liquid mobile ad exchange' available, Cormier says. Its RTB exchange grew in bid volume by more than 70% per month in 2011, the company says.
Nexage serves 12-13 billion ad impressions per month. It has 300 publisher clients, including the NFL, Rovio (Angry Birds) and Reuters. Cormier tells us he has about 150 buy-side clients, including roughly 100 on the mediation side and 50 in real time bidding.
Cormier is formerly the chief commercial officer/MD group strategy and corporate development for Virgin Media in the United Kingdom.
Millennial claims to be the leading independent mobile advertising platform company and the second largest mobile display advertising platform overall in the United States. It went public earlier this year and saw revenues of $33 million in Q1 2012. The company has about 265 employees.
More than 30,000 apps use Millennial's platform.
Palmieri has been around the block: He formerly held management roles with Verizon Wireless, Advertising.com, Tessco Technologies, American Personal Communications (now SprintNextel), and Acta Wireless.
JumpTap's targeted ads for clients such as Adidas, Best Buy, and Lincoln reach 107 million mobile users in the U.S. and 156 million mobile users worldwide.
More importantly, the rumour is that Amazon wants to buy JumpTap. A threeway marriage of the Kindle, Amazon.com, and JumpTap could create a formidable challenge to both Apple and Facebook in terms of mobile ads and shopping.
Bell has a BA in English from Harvard.
Few have heard of Velti, but it's huge in mobile ad buying and campaign management. The publicly traded company had revenues of $51.8 million in Q1 2012. Velti says the mid-point estimate for the company's 2012 revenue is $291 million. It has about 1,000 employees in 35 global offices (about 225 employees are in the U.S.)
It boasts more than 1,000 global brands, agencies, and operators as clients in more than 68 countries.
Moukas is also a brainiac: He founded and was the 'chief scientist' at Frictionless Commerce, which was later acquired by SAP; he has a B.S. in Business Administration and Computer Systems from the American College of Greece; an M.S. in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Edinburgh; and an M.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
SapientNitro is one of the more established agencies in the mobile/digital arena. It has 10,000 employees across the globe and has been in business more than 20 years.
It's publicly traded, and booked $269 million in total revenue in Q1 2012 (the company does not break out its mobile services revenue from its total).
Forrester ranked Sapient as the strongest large mobile ad agency (beating out nine others) based on the scale of its offerings and its strategic abilities, in Q1 2012.
Dallaire makes the list because of the untapped potential that exists for Amazon and its Kindle in the mobile business. Although there are already ads running in some apps and on some versions of the Kindle, the difference between Kindle and other tablet devices is that the Kindle is expressly linked to Amazon's online store. It's the dedicated retail store of tablets, in other words. If Amazon is able to convince clients to tap its vast trove of shopper data on behalf of clients it could shift the mobile/tablet ad market dramatically.
Dallaire was formerly vp/global agencies and accounts at Yahoo!, a senior director/MSN ad sales at Microsoft, and a senior account manager/business development at Amazon.
iAd is hugely important in Apple's mobile ad plan but its expensive price has cost the company market share. Minimum buy-in for an iAd campaign is currently $100,000, down from $1 million when the platform was launched in 2010. Apple's mobile revenues in 2011 were an estimated $92.4 million.
Nonetheless, iAd promotions set the standard for creative beauty in mobile.
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!.
The rap on Zynga is that it's too dependent on Facebook--and Ko is the man tasked with lessening that dependence through the development of monetizable games that can live independently from the social network on your phone, like Words With Friends.
He was a key player in the acquisition of OMGPOP, the maker of Draw Something. Zynga launched six mobile games in Q1 2012: Scramble with Friends, Dream PetHouse, Dream Heights and Draw Something. Zynga booked $28 million in ad revenue in Q1 2012; it did not break out the mobile portion of that which is likely a minority.
Kang-Xing Jin (who goes by 'KX') helped design the first News Feed and is the director of ads engineering at Facebook. His work became suddenly crucial to the mobile ad world when Facebook began offering Sponsored Stories in its mobile News Feed this year, and also allowed clients to buy those spots on the mobile-only Facebook app platform.
KX graduated from Harvard University in 2006 with a degree in computer science and then joined Facebook. (He was in at least two of Zuckerberg's classes: CS182 - Intelligent Machines and CS121 - Introduction to Computational Theory.)
About 200 of Twitter's 1,000 employees are now in sales as the microblog platform ramps up toward a goal of $1 billion in ad sales by 2014. Bain isn't done--he's still staffing up frantically on the sales side, particularly in non-U.S. territories. He arrived at Twitter in 2010; formerly he was a president at Fox Interactive.
60 per cent of Twitter's 140 million users access the platform from mobile devices, and mobile ad revenue sometimes exceeds that of desktop/laptop platforms.
InMobi claims to be the largest independent mobile ad network globally. It has 774 employees in offices in Bangalore, Johannesburg, London, Nairobi, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo.
It has seen 88 per cent growth in impressions on tablets across its network in last six months. It only launched in 2010, but it serves 93.4 billion impressions monthly.
Naveen previously worked at McKinsey & Company and Charles River Ventures. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School.
In 2011, Google's share of U.S. mobile ad revenue was 51.7 per cent or $750 million, according to eMarketer. Google, via its Android phone platform, is simply the whale of the industry. Various analysts have estimated how much annually Google earns from mobile ads. Some of those estimates are as much as $5 billion over the next few years.
Bonus: Check out his hip-hop Pinterest page.
We polled a wide selection of executives in the mobile advertising business. We asked them about the scale and reach of their own companies and then asked them to confidentially nominate two executives from different or competing companies that they feel are the most influential.
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.
- Employees: Staff headcount isn't a perfect proxy for revenues but it's better than nothing.
- Reach: We consider numbers of devices, number of impressions and number of ads served as a gauge of importance in the market.
- 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.
Do you think we missed someone who should be on this list? Tell us in the comments (below) or email [email protected] with your nomination.
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