Europe Beckons for xAd

xAd | 05/21/2013


xAd, the leader in delivering targeted mobile ads based on accurate user location and search context, is one of the largest mobile advertising networks in the U.S. Founded in 2009, the company now aggregates and manages over 20 billion location-specific ad requests per month.

Hot Topics’ Tom Lytton-Dickie met up with xAd’s CEO, Dipanshu Sharma, to discuss the importance of timing in a company’s success, improving mobile ad conversion and the opportunity in Europe.

Moving with the market

With worldwide mobile advertising revenue forecast to grow 400% between 2011 and 2016, and advertising budgets adapting accordingly, there are an increasing number of ad tech companies competing for a piece of the action. As revenue predictions suggest that the industry is poised for fast-paced growth, there’s no doubt that smart ad tech companies will seize the opportunity, grabbing market share and innovating the online/mobile advertising industry as we know it along the way.

Dipanshu Sharma feels that his company, xAd, is well positioned to take advantage of the rapidly growing ad tech space through leveraging the power of location-based mobile marketing. And, this isn’t Sharma’s first attempt at shaping a market. After a stint at Nokia in the 90s, Sharma co-founded V-Enable in 2001, a pre-Siri voice recognition technology, an advancement that the market wasn’t quite ready for. “I raised significant capital and hired a smart and experienced team, but quickly realised that the timing wasn’t right. The market was still pre-mature and not yet ready for a significant advancement like voice recognition. When you’re trying to shape or shift an industry, timing is everything,” Sharma explains.

However, this time around, Sharma knows the timing is right. With the large amount of information and mobile intent data that xAd is able to leverage, he is rightly grateful for the mass adoption of smartphones on a global scale. “The ecosystem is now in place, and most importantly, the location data is available. The timing is definitely right and people are beginning to understand the value in targeted, relevant advertising, especially when they’re on the go”.

With the ecosystem and scale in place, as 20 billion location enabled impressions attest to, the final element was customer willingness to use this opportunity. “We’ve seen a significant shift in consumer behaviour over the last year and a half or so, which has really helped our customers fully leverage our offerings. As the ad market matures and consumers become more comfortable with targeted advertising, they are much more willing to share their anonymized location data in exchange for mobile advertising that is actually useful to them. Irrelevant ads are a lose-lose for both the advertiser and the consumer.”

Today, xAd is on a hockey-stick growth curve, having experienced triple digit growth from Q1 2012 to Q1 of this year. “Businesses in the U.S. are becoming more and more sophisticated in their thinking around the targeted customer engagement opportunity in leveraging mobile-location data. We’re seeing a similar shift now in the U.K.”

Europe Beckons for xAD

21st May 2013

DipanshuxAd, the leader in delivering targeted mobile ads based on accurate user location and search xAdcontext, is one of the largest mobile advertising networks in the U.S. Founded in 2009, the company now aggregates and manages over 20 billion location-specific ad requests per month.

Hot Topics’ Tom Lytton-Dickie met up with xAd’s CEO, Dipanshu Sharma, to discuss the importance of timing in a company’s success, improving mobile ad conversion and the opportunity in Europe.

Moving with the market
With worldwide mobile advertising revenue forecast to grow 400% between 2011 and 2016, and advertising budgets adapting accordingly, there are an increasing number of ad tech companies competing for a piece of the action. As revenue predictions suggest that the industry is poised for fast-paced growth, there’s no doubt that smart ad tech companies will seize the opportunity, grabbing market share and innovating the online/mobile advertising industry as we know it along the way.

Dipanshu Sharma feels that his company, xAd, is well positioned to take advantage of the rapidly growing ad tech space through leveraging the power of location-based mobile marketing. And, this isn’t Sharma’s first attempt at shaping a market. After a stint at Nokia in the 90s, Sharma co-founded V-Enable in 2001, a pre-Siri voice recognition technology, an advancement that the market wasn’t quite ready for. “I raised significant capital and hired a smart and experienced team, but quickly realised that the timing wasn’t right. The market was still pre-mature and not yet ready for a significant advancement like voice recognition. When you’re trying to shape or shift an industry, timing is everything,” Sharma explains.

However, this time around, Sharma knows the timing is right. With the large amount of information and mobile intent data that xAd is able to leverage, he is rightly grateful for the mass adoption of smartphones on a global scale. “The ecosystem is now in place, and most importantly, the location data is available. The timing is definitely right and people are beginning to understand the value in targeted, relevant advertising, especially when they’re on the go”.

With the ecosystem and scale in place, as 20 billion location enabled impressions attest to, the final element was customer willingness to use this opportunity. “We’ve seen a significant shift in consumer behaviour over the last year and a half or so, which has really helped our customers fully leverage our offerings. As the ad market matures and consumers become more comfortable with targeted advertising, they are much more willing to share their anonymized location data in exchange for mobile advertising that is actually useful to them. Irrelevant ads are a lose-lose for both the advertiser and the consumer.”

Today, xAd is on a hockey-stick growth curve, having experienced triple digit growth from Q1 2012 to Q1 of this year. “Businesses in the U.S. are becoming more and more sophisticated in their thinking around the targeted customer engagement opportunity in leveraging mobile-location data. We’re seeing a similar shift now in the U.K.”

Driving Conversion
With significant momentum and successful customer adoption under the company’s belt, Sharma is very clear on xAd’s core points of focus. “Firstly, we are a performance business. 80% of our business is performance. We deliver industry-leading conversions for our customers which we track all the way from ad placement to point of sale, using location data and search behaviour as key performance drivers.” xAd is currently the 2nd largest player in local search (behind only Google), and powers search for the likes of MapQuest, Waze and the four largest U.S.  mobile operators, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile. “We see millions of anonymized mobile search queries every month where users are telling us exactly where they are and exactly what they’re looking for. We then layer our display advertising on top of it to achieve scale, resulting in high conversion rates in the form of calls, in-store visits and sales.”

The 2nd core focus of xAd is in selling precise local targeting in the form of place-based targeting or geo-fences, which form part of the larger concept of geo-spatial targeting. This was a major growth area in 2012 as the percentage of marketers using geo-precise targeting went from 27% in Q1 to 81% in Q4. “For example, if there is a New York Yankees or Barcelona/Real Madrid game happening, we can fence the stadium, fence the parking lots and place a multitude of super relevant ads within those fences.”

Locating Europe
xAd has a broad and diverse base of customers in the U.S. , including major brands like Wells Fargo, Shell, McDonalds and Microsoft. Sharma is currently in talks with many of the major advertising agencies in the U.K., and through these conversations, has determined the time is right to expand into Europe. “The challenges for a location-based advertising business like ours in Europe are very similar in those in the U.S. However, we have found that Europe is a bit more advanced in their acceptance and understanding of personalized advertising, which will allow us to implement targeted, location-aware campaigns with greater location accuracy, as consumers are more willing to share this information.”

However, Sharma feels that Europe has some catching up to do in terms of focusing advertising budgets towards mobile. Aside from building the platform to support various languages, that is where the main challenge may lie. “Mobile is big in Europe but mobile advertising budgets pale in comparison to online and TV. As mobile advertising spend grows, location becomes more relevant. That shift isn’t happening as fast in Europe as it is in the U.S., but this is poised to change significantly in the coming years, which is why we’re committed to launching in Europe very soon. The opportunity is monumental.”

xAd currently has around 60 employees based in New York and Silicon Valley. With Sharma leading the New York HQ, the West Coast office is run by his President of Products and Technology, Chi-Chao Chang. Chang was formerly GM of Yahoo!’s multi-billion dollar global search business, and this attraction of talent is a reflection of Sharma’s commitment to building a company full of high calibre individuals who are able to contribute to xAd’s success and strong company culture. He is understandably bullish about the future.  “As mobile continues to grow, location will become more and more important in advertising. Because of this, mobile advertising budgets are understandably following suit. We’re all part of an increasingly mobile culture — where we are at any given point and how we make decisions on the go help define who we are. Advertisers need to correctly position themselves at these specific moments in time, in order to be effective.

Article originally posted at www.hottopicevents.com