Location + Mobile + Ads: Verve CEO Says People Are Set to Get It

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For nearly eight years Verve Mobile has plowed the fields of location-based advertising, providing a platform for publishers to target consumers and  a mobile Web-development solution for setting up mobile sites on all major platforms. CEO Tom MacIsaac, who joined the company just two years ago from Extend Media (acquired by Cisco), is blunt and straightforward when asked about his duties: “I am responsible for 1.) setting direction and strategy, 2.) making sure the right people are in the right roles, and 3.) making sure there is money in the bank,”  he says.

Money in the bank indeed; that’s a good place to start!

MacIsaac will appear next Tuesday at the Street Fight Summit in New York on a panel titled “Making Location Move the Needle for Mobile Apps.”

What is Verve’s major selling point? 
We help advertisers leverage mobile media to create consumer demand. Within that, we focus on using location-based services and deep local-market penetration to help them achieve their marketing goals. We also provide publishing and advertising technology and services to publishers — many of them local publishers — to help them build larger mobile audiences and monetize those audiences with advertising.

How do you differentiate what you do with targeting from others in mobile advertising?
We are the experts in leveraging location for better mobile ad targeting. We are the trusted partner for many top advertisers and publishers for location-based mobile advertising and nobody can match our technology, focus, or scale in this category.

We have developed technology that harvests location data, analyzes that data, and builds better location data sets over time so that our data is more reliable and accurate.  We have built technology that helps us understand the context of a location and built audience segments around that so that we can target audiences based on their current or past locations.

We have built ad-targeting and rich-media technologies to make location-driven mobile advertising more effective for brands and more relevant for users. We are experts in digital advertising, mobile technologies, and big data and have brought that all together in the Verve platform.

How small of a radius do you think is optimal for delivering relevant ads?
Geofencing is just one tool in location-based mobile advertising.  Obviously, the radius of a geofence and the population density of the targeted areas are [axes] that have to be balanced to deliver scale for an advertiser.  The better way to look at this is to consider the advertiser’s objectives; geofencing can be helpful in reaching people nearby, but what about people who aren’t currently nearby but live or work nearby. Wouldn’t it be great to reach them too?  Or to retarget people who have recently been at or near a location?  Or to target your optimal audience — like soccer moms or business travelers or  outdoor enthusiasts — where those segments are built based on data associated with user locations?  All of this is possible.

In 2013 mobile will begin to do to online advertising what online did to print.
— Tom MacIsaac

So who are some of your recognizable customers?
We work with advertisers like Best Buy, Home Depot, Radio Shack, GM, Burger King, Choice Hotels, and many other brands to help them reach their desired mobile audiences. We also work with publishers like the AP, Hearst, NBC Universal, and many other premium publishers, providing them tools to help monetize their mobile websites and apps.

Is your solution available to smaller customers, like an independent hyperlocal news provider?
Absolutely, we work with many independent hyperlocal publishers.

What trends do you see in mobile advertising in 2013?
I think 2013 is the year that people will begin understand that mobile advertising will soon be the premium channel for all digital advertising. If you want to reach users when they are out and about, interacting with the real world, closer to the buying decision than ever before, mobile will be the preferred channel. Mobile will begin to do to online advertising what online did to print. If you have a big online ad business, you better get ahead of the mobile curve now before it’s too late. And location will be at the center of all of this; location is the new data set mobile brings to the table.

What milestones do you have in mind for Verve this year (that you can discuss)?
We want to continue to distinguish ourselves as the leaders in location-powered mobile advertising and continue to serve the goals of our advertiser and publisher clients. We have grown immensely over the last two years, more than doubling revenue each year. Our targets for 2013 are equally ambitious.

Rick Robinson’s Turf Talk column appears every second week on Street Fight. Follow him at @wideopensea.