4 Mobile Ad Tech Companies Making Waves in Boston

Mobile-Class2If you haven’t been reading the news lately, mobile technology is the future. With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, consumers spend more time on these devices than ever before. You simply can’t afford to not pay attention to this seemingly trivial fact any longer. Mobile is quickly growing into not only a legitimate marketing channel, but is also on it’s way to becoming a major one, and is your ticket to success in the future.

As the mobile sphere matures, more and more companies, from the super enterprises like Google, Apple, Facebook, et. al., all the way down to sexy new startups are driving innovation in this sector. We’ve even got a handful in Boston as well.

And lucky for you, Jennifer Lum, founder of Adelphic Mobile and noble crusader at the forefront of this new movement will stop by to teach a class at Intelligent.ly on August 19th on Everything You Need to Know About Mobile Ad Tech. She’ll share her knowledge and give you what it takes to get a leg up in this new frontier. Sign up below.

Jennifer Lum isn’t the only one in Boston making waves in the mobile space, though. We’ve rounded up a list of four mobile companies based in this city that you should make a point to pay attention to.


mobile ad tech companies

Based in Westborough, MA and founded in 2003, the company’s name means “snap of the fingers” in Telugu, a South Indian Language. Chitika operates the second largest strategically targeted ad network in the world, serving over 450 million users over 4 billion ads each month on over 300,000 sites. They’re blazing the trail in mobile ad tech, and even publish news and special reports from their independent research arm.

mobile ad tech companiesLocalytics

Raj Aggarwhal founded this company in 2009 with the mission to empower brands to create great relationships with their mobile and web app users. Since then, big name companies like eBay, Salesforce.com, Microsoft, and The New York Times have signed on to use their services, which now supports over 5000 customers and 20,000 apps. They also have a great blog, so take a look and learn more about the mobile space.

mobile ad tech companiesLocately

According to their website, Locately’s “proprietary data mining engine analyzes location data collected from opted-in mobile phones to understand what consumers are doing in the real world: where people shop, how they get to and from a given location, which stores they drive past, and much more.”

mobile ad tech companiesROAM

This company is literally defining the term “mCommerce” or mobile commerce. The whole point of having an advertisement is to drive a consumer to buy, and ROAM provides the platform for that. According to their website, “ROAM provides the only end-to-end mobile commerce platform enabling merchant-facing businesses and retailers across the globe to quickly, easily and cost-effectively deliver innovative and secure mobile point of sale solutions to their customers.”

Boston clearly has some forces to be reckoned with operating in the mobile sphere. How will your company take advantage of the impending mobile revolution?

How to Design a Mobile App for Early Adopters

In today’s increasingly competitive space, mobile apps live and die by whether early adopters engage with them. But adoption doesn’t happen by accident, it is conscientious choices by the product designer that cater early versions to appeal to the gatekeepers of the app world.

Swimming In The iPool

Make it easy for early adopters to take a dip in your application.

Design your application (app) for the first 1% of users, and millions will follow

Everyone wants to get millions of users quickly. The trick to this is designing your app to appeal to the first 1-5% of users who will ultimately pick up your product (or the early adopters).

There are three key traits of early adopters are essential to consider when designing your product in the first phases of its evolution:

1.     Early adopters like to try new stuff

Don’t make it hard to explore your product. Your own user registration and authentication is a must, but provide Facebook login as option. Ask for as little information as far down the workflow as you can.

HINT: Never ask users to confirm email or password twice in an app – it is annoying and will cause drop off.

 2.     Early adopters like to brag

In this case, bragging is a good thing! Think about how you want early adopters to contribute, not just consume. Focus on a fun process for contribution, whether it’s a motivating User Experience (UX) or the gamification of contributions.

HINT: There is a delicate balance between easy contribution and content quality – make the desired action you want your user to take obvious.

3.     Early adopters like to connect and share

Make your app easy to share and inherently viral. This helps early adopters spread the word faster, but be sure to consider how they engage with their network. Sharing needs to be built into your use case, but, if social is not there, don’t force it.

HINT: Do not ask for offline processing unless absolutely necessary – this takes up precious time.

Considering these traits as you begin to build will be key for your app’s success. Remember to keep it simple and fun and your early adopters will help do a lot of the promotional work for you.

Image JD Hancock via Compfight

About Instructor Saad Fazil

Saad is a senior product manager for Nokia’s Location and Commerce group and previously co-founded VentureDive, a technology incubator. He blogs at http://sframblings.com/.  View slides from Saad’s class here.


Your Map to the Mobile Advertising Landscape

Mobile advertising has exploded over the past several years to become a sea ripe for fishing, or in this case, making money.

“There’s a huge opportunity for companies right now to say, ‘We want to talk to you… We’ll make it easy for you. Here’s a mobile app or here’s a mobile website. Here’s a way,” says Tim McLaughlin, President and cofounder of Siteworx, a web-content management company.

The mobile waters, though in the beginning stages of exploration, have remained largely untested by many, however. To get the most out of mobile, you’ll need a good map, and that’s why Matt Kojalo and Ben Perry, mobile cartographers of sorts, stopped by Intelligent.ly on Wednesday night. They shared their knowhow and gave great tips on how to expertly paddleboard through the mobile ad ocean. Read on below to learn how to decode the landscape.

App or Mobile Web?

The first thing you’ll need to distinguish between when deciding to take your company mobile is whether to build an app or a mobile website. But what are the differences?

Consumers can easily discover apps through the marketplace. Unlike mobile websites, they can utilize the phone’s native features like the camera, address book, and location. Users also spend more time on apps than they do on traditional websites, a whopping 4.2 minutes in apps vs. 0.8 minutes on a website, according to Comscore. In addition, 82% of time spent on mobile media is spent on apps. But the biggest challenge and possible setback is the approval process in the app stores. The stores don’t immediately accept submissions, and the time in between can be pretty valuable. Not to mention that sometimes they deny the app altogether.

Mobile Website
On the one hand, mobile sites are easier to build, but on the other, they don’t allow for sync up with the phone’s native features as easy. Another plus though, is the fact that an app store does not need to approve it, once you publish it, it’s up and running. Mobile sites are great for content-heavy publishers, and HTML5 provides a flexible platform to build off of. You can also add a launcher to the marketplace to make it look and feel like an app, while really just running off the web.

So what should you choose? In the best case scenario, both, but It really depends on what you want to do. If you want to use native functions, the best route is an app. If you push more content, then you’re better to base it off the web.

Mobile Advertising v. Wired Web Advertising
Now that you have the basic differences down, let’s take a look at how mobile advertising differs from advertising on the wired web.

For starters, the mobile ad space costs much less and has a higher click-through-rate, around 0.3, than traditional web, which stands around 0.05. (This information may actually be inaccurate, according to an informal survey released yesterday, showing that as much as half of all clicks on mobile ads are accidental.)

A downside remains in that as of now, mobile does not have the capability to employ cookies to track usage habits, although companies are looking into how to do this. But at the same time, the phone is a personal and not a shared device, allowing for much more targeted ads.

Another challenge exists in the post-click experience. On an app, or an ad, you’re stuck on the small screen, so mobile optimized landing pages are critical. Ads within apps are often for other apps and lead to a download page.

How to Acquire Users

One of the easiest ways to acquire users is to build an app with lots of buzz surrounding it. To generate that buzz, make it social and shareable in as many ways as possible. Have options to sync up to a user’s Facebook and Twitter accounts to automatically post an update once they unlock an achievement, or allow them to search for their friends on the networks. Promote by platform by creating individualized strategies for each.

There are also a number of paid methods to acquire users. You can buy them via ad networks like Google, Jumptap, and Millennial, in addition to using services to pay for downloads of the app, including Fiksu, Flurry, GetJar, and Tapjoy. A word of caution about these services though: incentivized installs are only worth about a third as a non-incentivized one.

Advertising Analytics

Once you’ve created your action plan on how to acquire users, you’ve got to measure the success of each campaign. Employ analytics to do this. Some common ones include:

  • eCPM – effective cost per thousand impressions. This metric measures your ad rates. Find it using the formula eCPM = Total Earnings/Impressions x 1000
  • LTV – Lifetime Value. This metric shows how much money you are making. LTV = Expected Life x ARPU x Gross Margin
  • ARPU – Average revenue per user. ARPU = Total Revenue / Number of Subscribers

So there you have it, a map of the mobile advertising landscape. To learn more about subjects just like this, be sure to check out Intelligent.ly’s class page!

Paddleboarding the Mobile Advertising Landscape with Matt Kojalo

Online Advertising and Mobile Advertising are one in the same…right? WRONG. Online vs. Mobile advertising is just one of the key concepts you’ll need to grasp when starting to grow a mobile presence. On Wednesday night at Intelligent.ly, learn this and more from mobile maven, Matt Kojalo, as he shows students how to cultivating a thriving user base while making money along the way. Here’s a little sneak peek into his upcoming class!

What is the biggest challenge in going about growing a mobile presence?

There are a lot of challenges. How to acquire users and make money from them is probably the biggest challenge now. It’s pretty simple, but you need to experiment to find  the best plan for you. You need to gather that data—people are still trying to figure it out. It’s just like the traditional web was in 1998. It’s the wild west, now is time to stake your claim. The post-click experience, what happens after you click on an ad and the inclination brands and agencies have to dip more than their toe into mobile is increasing, but needs to increase more.

How do mobile ads differ from traditional online advertising, and how does this change the focus/outlay of the ad?

Mobile ads are small.  BUT…what they lack in size they make up for in a higher engagement rate than traditional web ads. It’s all about the Click-Through-Rate (CTR). Publishers (people who have apps and mobile sites) are looking to attract users and advertisers want to get in front of those users. Since the ad is small, it really has to get the user to enage. Rich media (iAd) and other ad types help, but majority of ads are still just 320×50 banners.

How big of a role do analytics play in building a mobile presence?

Analytics are crucial.  You have to know who your users are and what they are doing and how you got them. Once you have all these pieces together, you will be able to quickly find out if you are making money.

If you could be an expert in one skill by tomorrow, what would it be?

Well after trying Stand Up Paddeling boarding recently, I wish I was good at that. But I do wish I was better at math. Big analytical formula’s. Its all math these days. Thank God for Excel.

Matt KojaloMatt Kojalo is the Vice President of Global Advertising for the Poynt Corporation, a global leader in the mobile local search and advertising space. Before joining the Poynt team, Matt served as Vice President of Business Development at Mocospace, the largest mobile community in North America, with over 14 million users.

Join Matt at Intelligent.ly on Wednesday, July 25 for Monetizing and Navigating the Mobile Landscape.