Bootstrapped profitable MobileFuse introduces Vision, a drop dead simple mobile video advertising platform

By Michael Carney , written on October 29, 2013

From The News Desk


Mobile video advertising is growing at a rapid clip among both global brands and small businesses. But the mobile ad workflow is still inefficient and time consuming, and as a result undercuts many of the advantages that video ads can offer. Put simply, regardless of your budget or available resources, it’s still unnecessarily difficult to navigate the fragmented the multi-platform, multi-device landscape and effectively reach targeted audiences with mobile video.

Mobile ad network startup MobileFuse today announced a family of new products aimed at addressing this situation. The first, Vision, is a mobile video ad platform with an open architecture that allows advertisers to skip most of the laborious steps otherwise required to create, deploy, and manage video ads on mobile.

A key component of the newly-announced Vision platform is ViewCelerator. The custom software layer allows creators to wrap their videos in Javascript and thereby transcode a single video add into multiple output formats, regardless of their initial format or file type. These multi-format ads can then be delivered at the optimal size and speed for the device on which they are being viewed.

For example, one advertiser may begin with an MP4 or .MOV format video created for a desktop Web add. Through vision, this same file can be repurposed and seamlessly served as a “click-to-view video” within an iOS app, as an “in-banner video” on a mobile optimized website, and then as a “pre-roll” or “interstitial video” within a Android video app.

Unlike traditional ad networks, which typically only allow ads to run on publisher sites with which they are already integrated, Vision allows advertisers to consolidate reporting from all ad impressions, wherever they occur (including outside its platform). Vision delivers quartile tracking, completion tracking, and post-click engagements data.

“We’ve always been about solving real problems,” says MobileFuse co-founder and CEO Ken Harlan. “This includes the lack of transparency around where ads are running, the inability to quickly and easily create ad units that run where the viewers are spending time, and creating an open platform that allows clients to incorporate existing vendors into their workflow.”

There are a number of recent studies that support an increased focus on mobile video advertising. Video already accounts for more than half of all mobile Web traffic, according to data from Bytemobile. Moreover, mobile video ad spending, which at $520 million will account for 13 percent of digital video ad spending this year, is growing 100 percent annually, according to eMarketer. Most compelling, however, Nielsen reports that mobile video ads are nearly four times more effective in driving purchase intent than traditional television ads and are two-and-a-half times more effective than online video ads.

MobileFuse is not your average startup. With four years of operations under its belt and 40 employees, the company already has more than 500 publishers on its platform. This means that Vision’s advertising clients can reach more than 95 percent of all US mobile devices. The company’s publishing partners include a fairly diverse group of household names like Forbes, MTV, Elle, Fox News, E!, BET, Bravo, and Univision, among others. The company has technology offices in New York City and Boston, with sales teams in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago.

Over the last year, MobileFuse has seen video add adoption rise from 15 percent of all campaigns last year to more than 33 percent year to date. More than 50 percent of all RFPs (requests for proposal) being submitted today include a video component, according to VP Casey Jones.

MobileFuse is not the only company looking to solve for the ad creation and distribution problem. Companies like PaperG are taking a similar tact with display advertising, while ZEFR  is powering brand advertising on YouTube. Even Google recently entered the automated ad content creation category with its Ready Image Ads (display ads) and Ready Ad Gallery (multi-media ads) products. But MobileFuse is the only company I’ve run across that is creating workflow solutions for the rapidly growing mobile video ad segment. Given the category growth, however, it’s unlikely to remain the only company in the space, if it in fact is today.

Vision and ViewCelerator were created as tools for internal use by MobileFuse’s managed services division, an agency-like team that helps advertisers execute campaigns across the company’s platform. But following several months of internal use and ongoing feedback from external clients and partners, the company decided to commercialize the product and offer it for free to any company advertising within its network. Users simply pay the company for ad-placement. The company focuses on premium inventory and uses exclusively CPM (cost per impression)-based pricing.

“It sounds deceptively simple, but that’s absolutely by design,” Harlan says. “We think we can democratize mobile video advertising.”

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