April 13, 2010
 

Paran Johar, Mobile In Motion, Parts 1 & 2

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By Wendy McHale

Almost everybody we know defines themselves by the content and media they use. Ask a person what shows they watch, or what films they've seen, or what sites they visit. Without even asking, they'll also tell you why the media helps define who they are, right?

Okay, turn it around. Only a handful of people actually define a medium. When we think of the modern magazine, it's Henry Luce, or the modern newspaper, it's Rupert Murdoch, or the modern cable network, Sumner Redstone, or the modern radio network, Howard Stern.

In the digital space when we think of blogs, it's Jason Calacanis, or with social media, it's Mark Zuckerberg, or search, its Sergey Brin. But who is mobile's?

Well, what do they need to be? First and foremost they have to "be" mobile. They must operate at satellite speeds and have the energy and focus to criss-cross the country or the dateline with the ease of sending a txt message.

Secondly let's face it, they must possess style. They have to be cool. Mobile is not your grandmother's Olds-mobile. It's on the cutting edge. It's the next big thing, advertising-wise. It's also the next small thing, hand-held-wise. Like the coolest print ad ever written, Mobile's Master must be able to "Think Small" like DDB's Volkswagen.

And finally, they must be able to communicate a world of possibilities. They must be inclusive. They must be able to think outside the hand. They must be able to lend a hand; be user friendly. Be able to convince people with the shake of a hand that mobile has a relevant place in their lives.

Sound difficult? Yes and no. Mobile is the kind of medium that epitomizes, "You know it when you see it."

Based on the feedback we've been hearing, a lot of people see Paran Johar. Mr. Johar is mobile in motion. Whether he's traveling cross-country or around the world, wherever on the phone or in person, Paran's message comes across as clear as a bell. He's the epitome of cool. He's a gifted person; the most meaningful one being the gift of being natural.

If you know it when you see it, there's no person in the mobile business being seen, listened to and understood on the merits of the medium more than Johar. Check out the mobile conference event schedule this fall. Most likely he'll be there.

We had the opportunity to catch up with Mr. Johar recently. Needless to say we were mobile ourselves.

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Wendy: How are you?

Paran: I'm doing very well, thank you.

Wendy: You're a busy fellow these day!

Paran: LOL! It's a pace I'm most comfortable with. Try to make everyday count.

Wendy: Before we jump right into our discussion on Jumptap, tell me about yourself. What was your career path and how did it lead you to mobile?

Paran: Well I began my career at the very bottom of the advertising food chain in the best possible job; media accounting at BBDO.

Wendy: Wow! That's amazing.

Paran: It was one of the most boring jobs, but it gave me an appreciation for the tools and systems necessary that enable advertising.

Wendy: Good move.

Paran: From there, I worked my way up through media at various agencies. I started in media at Saatchi and Saatchi and then at Bates, where I realized I really had a passion for wanting to shape the marketing and creative strategy. So my next natural step was to transition into account management. The Internet revolution was just beginning at this time and my main client, Hyundai didn't have a website. Being the new kid at the agency, my CEO assigned me the task to develop their web strategy.

Wendy: Nice going!

Paran: It really was great because from that experience I realized the disruptive force the Internet would have a huge impact on advertising. I jumped in head first and worked for one of the first interactive agencies - Poppe Tyson. This move put me right where the action was at the time online. From there I got the opportunity to open Tribal DDB in Los Angeles as General Manager and grew the agency from its infancy into $80MM in billings.

Wendy: Wow.

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Paran: It was great. I spent six fabulous years at Tribal DDB, where I developed professional and personal relationships that will last a lifetime. At Tribal I learned how important culture is within an organization and how with a winning team, you can accomplish anything you set your sights on.

Wendy: What next?

Paran: Well, after Tribal, I moved to MRM where I ran digital marketing for North America and oversaw their LA office. In addition, to my day jobs, I was a digital firefighter of sorts and helped secure the GM business in Detroit and won the GM business for Latin America for MRM.

Wendy: Digital firefighter, LOL.

Paran: It was at MRM where I was recruited by Jumptap. Jumptap had been courting me for a year, evangelizing the future of the mobile Internet and how it would revolutionize Internet advertising. I began to see very clearly that the mobile Internet advertising was really the like its PC cousin, except on steroids!

Wendy: Why is that?

Paran: The mobile Internet is more personal, has less clutter, is always with consumers, and offers far more targeting capabilities. I recognized the next revolution would be mobile and I wanted to be a part of creating it. I jumped at the opportunity (no pun intended) and joined Jumptap as Chief Marketing Officer. That was almost two years ago. I've been fortunate to be a part of helping to evolve and evangelize mobile advertising and watch as the whole ecosystem rapidly evolves.

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Wendy: Spoken like a true believer. So was Jumptap early to the game?

Paran: Yes, but being early to the game isn't what's important. You have to stay ahead of the curve by constantly providing new innovation.

Wendy: Such as?

Paran: Well, Jumptap was the first company to deploy a mobile-only keyword auction marketplace. Jumptap was the first to provide display advertising solutions with Tier 1 mobile operators in both North America and Europe, such as our work with AT&T and TeliaSonera.

Wendy: Interesting.

Paran: It's something we're proud of. We expect our patent portfolio will continue to grow, which in my opinion reflects thought-leadership. Our first patent was announced in June and our second in August.

Wendy: What else?

Paran: Last year, we made a conscious decision to shift focus to our mobile advertising solutions and leverage our mobile search technology heritage, carrier solutions and expertise to enhance our advertising targeting technology.

Wendy: How does it work?

Paran: It's similar to the evolution of Google's ad business.

Wendy: How's that?

Paran: We began with mobile search versus advertising and then advanced toward the advertising model on other sites - which became a power engine of growth. Traditionally, when a new market is created, new companies emerge and eclipse the older dominant players. You could say Jumptap's future is expected to mirror pc internet ad growth - just a little faster.

Wendy: Let's talk about the company, who are the founders?

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Paran; Jumptap was founded in the offices of General Catalyst, a Boston-based venture capital firm. They saw a need to help companies market their products to mobile subscribers. Jorey Ramer - then working at General Catalyst on new venture development and now Jumptap's Vice President of Corporate Development - identified strategies to build a new company that helped operators to counter the threat from the Internet Giants - GYM (Google, Microsoft and Yahoo) initially through their own branded search experience, then on preserving their value and role in the mobile advertising ecosystem.

Wendy: Okay.

Paran; After realizing what they were creating, they set out to hire a world class "A" team, eventually bringing in top talent from across mobile operators (e.g., Orange, AT&T), mobile solutions providers (e.g., Comverse, Openwave), and digital advertising (e.g., Yahoo, Tribal DDB).

Wendy: Ok so what does the name "Jumptap" mean?

Paran: Its name is intended to bring attention to the various elements of the company. For example, we "tap" into the rich data resources of our customers and market leading technologies. From there the right subscribers "jump" out of the crowd and straight to our advertisers!

Wendy: LOL! Sounds great. Let's change gears. Mobile is still tricky for planners. What makes Jumptap a "must" buy and how are you different than other mobile ad networks?

Paran: We're the only mobile ad network with access to carrier-grade data to use for targeting. Most other mobile ad networks simply use surfing behavior or context to infer a target audience, which is not nearly as accurate. Jumptap can target across 60 different targeting parameters including credit score, ethnicity, children in household, and prism lifestyle data.

Wendy: Wow, that's a lot of data.

Paran: It is. In addition, we're the only ad network that has both a premium ad network and a performance marketplace, which we call tapMatch.

Wendy: What does it do?

Paran: Well whether you're an advertiser seeking to move brand metrics or are ROI-focused with click to action, click to SMS, or click to call, we offer a comprehensive solution for each.

Wendy: So how are the programs sold in?

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Paran: Jumptap has a long-standing strategic vision to unite our carrier, publisher and advertising partners together to establish standards that effectively and responsibly leverages carrier data that unlocks the key to relevant targeted mobile advertising.

Wendy: What does that mean today?

Wendy: Mobile Advertising is not about serving billions of impressions. It's about serving relevant targeted advertising experiences that drive user engagement and ROI for advertisers. This ultimately is a better user experience and generates a higher effective CPM for publishers.

Wendy: Is there a certain process an advertiser has to be aware of to incorporate Jumptap into their media program?

Paran: Good question. If an advertiser believes in the power of digital, mobile is a natural extension. Mobile advertising has many of the same benefits of the net but is less cluttered and delivers higher response rates. The process to start a mobile advertising campaign is very similar to making a traditional web buy. Mobile offers advertisers to ability to do target audience evaluation, third party ad serving, and post and measurement of post click actions or page views.

Wendy: What's the difference?

Wendy: The main difference in measurement is the ability to measure click to call, click to SMS or click to App.

Wendy: Okay so what about publishers? What's the process of enrolling and/or accepting sites into the Jumptap Network? Has your network grown organically or by strategic design?

Paran: We've intentionally grown strategically. Every quarter we identify inventory that matches the needs of our advertisers to augment or build new audience channels. If a publisher approaches us, we determine if they are a fit or if there are other strategic benefits to having them in the network. This is a win-win as no one benefits from unsold inventory.

Wendy: That's true.

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Paran: Exactly. An advertiser or agency always evaluates their campaign's goals and objectives as a first step. Mobile becomes a clearer path for reaching them. As for incorporating Jumptap - it's fairly simple. We have an array of unique audience channels, including luxury auto, news, entertainment, sports, finance, lifestyle, social networking, travel, games and in applications including iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.

Wendy: Impressive.

Paran: I agree. These channels have proven that they reach affluent audiences that still have disposable income. We'll custom build a channel for selected audiences if it makes sense as a solution.

Wendy: So I'm assuming you have some happy clients at this point: What do your site and advertising partners tell you about the results you're generating?

Paran: Honestly - that we deliver the best customer service, have the highest quality inventory through top media and carrier properties and that our premium ad network and performance marketplace deliver the best ROI.

Wendy: Yeah, but everyone says they deliver great ROI. What's so different about your metrics?

Paran: By ROI we don't simply mean clicks, we mean user engagement that results in strong post click page views. Ours are almost double those of our competitors.

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Stay tuned for Part Two tomorrow.

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By Wendy McHale

Yesterday we began with Part One of our two part conversation with Jumptap CMO, Paran Johar on how he, Jumptap and the mobile medium are advancing at an increasingly rapid speed toward becoming a mass media-sized platform for advertisers.

Response has been tremendous. While we have covered various aspects of mobile in the last year and published conversations with other mobile media luminaries, this is the first bit of content on hand-held media that has received an explosive reception!

It's a sign of the times. Mobile programs are no longer reliant only on increasingly spare opportunistic media budgets; the first of which have been cut during the current recession-depression.

Certainly that is one reason for the heightened interest. However the other reason is Johar, himself. Call him a game-changer, a change-agent or just articulate in illuminating the potential that mobile offers. The fact of the matter is that Paran Johar is mobile in motion!

Click on the bar below to read Part One. What follows here is part two of how Johar envisions mobile Madison Avenue. Special thanks to Paran Johar and his talented team at Jumptap for helping us with the production of this effort. The MadAve Journal does not report the news. We are happier making it, instead!

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Wendy: Okay, there's no dispute that mobile is maturing as a medium, worthy now of national advertisers take a more serious look at it. However, not everyone has a mobile site. Does it make sense for an advertiser to do a deal even if they don't have one?

Paran: We think so. It's always great to have a mobile site or mobile application if it's applicable to your users. But it's not critical to be successful using mobile advertising. There's a broad array of click actions such as click to call, click to SMS, click to call, click to iTunes, click to video, and click to maps that don't require your own site. We can also help our advertisers and agencies develop a mobile WAP site to get them started.

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Wendy: Are there certain carriers and/or mobile phone makers that are easier to work with than others?

Paran: They're all different. Some are really progressive and have understood early on, the power of mobile advertising. They quickly saw the potential role they can play and the revenue stream they can generate. Others have moved a little more cautiously, but they saw what happened to the land line vendors when the cable companies moved in. They certainly don't want to see history repeat itself.

Wendy: I'm an admitted iPhone fanatic, but objectively, ranking the iPhone versus Nokia, Blackberry and the others, which is generating the most audience?

Paran: Ease of use on the handset and on the mobile site is important but it's about more than just the handset. It's about the carrier's data plans and their affordability.

Wendy: Right.

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Paran: We know for a fact that lower-priced, all inclusive plans see a huge spike in subscribers and mobile internet activity. The iPhone has definitely been the game changer for mobile advertising. However, even with their phenomenal growth, the market share is smaller as compared to some of the others. But they see the lion's share of mobile internet activity.

Wendy: Do you have any stats?

Paran: As a matter of fact I do! The iPhone user group also displays characteristics that marketers should take heed of:
- 37% watch video on their phone (6x more than typical sub)
- 45% have household income of $100k or more
- 98% use data features on their phone
- 88% use in the mobile internet (4x more than typical sub)
- 75% download apps (5x more than typical sub)
- 72% use location-based services (7x more than typical sub)
- Are diverse in age:
- - 13-17 - 5%
- - 18-24 - 13%
- - 25-34 - 29%
- - 35-55 - 36%
- - 55+ - 17%

Wendy: How does your team get advertisers to come on board, especially if they're bringing their brand into mobile for the first time?

Paran: We have a direct sales force for our premium brand advertisers. They work directly with agencies and brands to help them understand why mobile is essential, how to develop a campaign, how to buy, maximize returns, and measure.

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Wendy: Right. So I imagine there is a certain amount of "hand holding" because there is a learning curve and here.

Paran: Absolutely and we see it as part of the service we need to provide our clients. We continually publish white papers, host webinars, and continuously educate so that both premium and performance marketers take a long hard look at mobile as a new opportunity to reach potential customers. The problem right now with the Internet is that it continues grow and the bid prices continue to spiral out of reach. Mobile has yet to ignite a ferocious battle so prices as well as returns, can far outpace its Internet brethren.

Wendy: Interesting. Does your tech team need to do any resizing or any other tasks to sync up their creative with your platform?

Paran: We adhere to the MMA guidelines for mobile ad formats but we can help clients develop and/or resize creative if necessary. As far as reporting goes, we have a wide array of tools for advertisers and agencies that allow them to customize the type and frequency of the reporting. As the industry is rapidly growing and changing, we're developing new features to keep up with the newest demands and needs of our advertisers.

Wendy: So from everything I've heard, the market is moving rapidly and looks like the growth will continue into 2010. Is that fair to say?

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Paran: Absolutely. We've seen budgets escalate from single digits to double and triple digits. Two of the largest CPG brands now have 7-figure mobile advertising budgets. There are now also lots of case studies that have clearly proven mobile's ability to more effectively target and elicit higher user engagement, conversions and ROI.

Wendy: Interesting.

Paran: Momentum is building. For example we've already done more business in the first two quarters of 2009 than in all of 2008. We expect to see more than double the RFP's in the next two quarters. In the next 12 - 18 months you will see an enormous change in the amount of money dedicated to mobile. Whether brand or performance, you're going to see companies of all sizes begin taking advantage of mobile advertising. You'll also see innovation taking center stage with more and more brands leveraging the capabilities of the device and applications to develop some pretty amazing campaigns.

Wendy: Crystal ball time. Although we're in an economic recession, teen and young adult disposable incomes are still percentage-wise higher than their parents. Does that make Jumptap recession-proof? Isn't mobile advertising still a foreign language as a media type to most advertisers?

Paran: Well as we all know, in a recession, marketing budgets are always the first to go. Companies then hold their agencies far more accountable and look for better returns from less spend. Regardless of age group - this is where mobile shines.
Research studies have shown that in a recession, users are least likely to part with their mobile phone service than say cable tv or pc Internet access. According to a Pew Internet Research Study, the mobile will be the primary Internet connection by 2020. (Download PDF).

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Wendy: Well, the old bromide of those who continue their marketing efforts during an economic downturn have an advantage when the economy bounces back. It could apply here.

Paran: Exactly. So I guess you could say Jumptap is as recession proof as one can be. We prefer to think that when this recession is over, we'll be the last man standing. We are poised for explosive growth! Mobile advertising is still at an introductory level but those who have mastered the language are admired and quickly being emulated.

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Wendy: We always end with each interview with the same question. What advice would you give a college grad just getting out of school today about the media business?

Paran: The worst decision is not to make one. Find a part of media you like and get your foot in the door. I speak from experience. Don't forget, I started in accounting! Work in the mail room, clean bathrooms, or answer phones. Do whatever it takes and you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

Wendy: There it is. We come full circle. Thanks Paran, I appreciate your time.

Paran: My pleasure, Wendy

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