Building real-time tracking, targeting and bidding for mobile advertisers: an interview with Tamome
This post originally appeared on blog.up.co
Tamome is a mobile advertising & technology start-up that delivers the right ads to the right people at the right time using real-time techniques.
Jonathan Webb, has built the product strategy, roadmap, engineering team and platform from a high level concept and no heads to an efficient development organisation that designs, builds and supports the systems that the sales, marketing and operations teams rely upon 24x7. He will be available during the Startup Weekend Art as a coach. Follow Tamome's development on twitter.
What is Tamome, how does it work and what’s your job?
Tamome is a solution for advertisers and advertising agencies. With Tamome they can target campaigns at audiences on mobile devices, measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and continuously modify their targeting and spend to optimise the campaign.
To do this we provide real-time tracking, targeting and bidding on impressions (places to put ads) which requires serious custom built big-data software systems that we develop in-house.
My job is to understand Tamome’s and our customers’ needs, then translate the needs into a UI and architecture that our engineering team can understand, build and manage. The end product must make our users happy in their quest to optimise and deliver the advertisers’ campaigns.
Put really simply – I figure out what we need to do, how we will do it and then ensure my team can, and do, deliver it.
Where does Tamome fit in mobile advertising?
Tamome helps the media industry optimise advertising on mobile whilst the world is going mobile - fast.
To do this we get the right ads to the right people at the right time, and that means that
1: End users receive less irrelevant ads
2: Advertisers increase their ROI
3: Publishers (the people with places to put ads) receive more each time they show one of our ads
Who are your customers?
Anyone wanting to advertise effectively on mobile anywhere in the world. We are currently running campaigns for mobile network operators, car manufacturers, double glazing, glasses, contact lenses, supermarkets and games developers. These are running in the UK, Europe, USA, South America and Asia.
How has media advertising evolve?
The traditional print media industry evolved over the last 20 years to support desktop advertising. Initially buying and selling impressions, then clicks in bulk. As in, ‘I’ll take 1 million clicks on the telegraph this month at $0.20 per click please’. That was disrupted by real-time bidding models about 7 years ago. Each time there’s an opportunity to show an end user an ad, the opportunity is put up for auction and the highest bidder gets to put their ad in front of the user. All within a fraction of a second.
Now we’re in another disruptive period as mobile becomes so prevalent for most people.
It’s harder to figure out what’s happening on mobile, it harder to grab users’ attention and get them to ‘do something’ and there’s a bunch of additional user data that might help you decide which ads to send them.
All this is disruptive to the business models of the exiting agencies. They need to think differently for mobile advertising and stay up to date with bidding technologies.
Tamome is coming at these problems from a purely mobile perspective. We’ve got no desktop legacy to worry about and we’re running real campaigns so that we can learn and develop our platform fast and in a way that is perfectly suited to mobile. We’re responsive, agile and mobile focused.
See the UI and features below. Click on picture to enlarge.
This all seems to need a lot of clever analysis and user-friendly front-end UI, how did you develop your solution?
We leveraged several 3rd party systems to bootstrap fast and then built our UI, custom mobile tracking and analysis tools on top of that. We’re prototyping, testing and building a real-time bidding system that involves programmatic buying and that uses regression analysis and Bayesian statistics to figure out what inventory to bid on, when and for how much. All in a fraction of a second. Think of it as a stock market, but with each share worth a significantly different amount to each bidder.
Other people are building similar systems (there wouldn't be a market if they weren't) but we aim to do it faster and better, so it’s down to maths, algorithms, fantastic software engineers and a deep understanding of what campaign managers really do.
OK, sounds like you need an army of math geniuses and software engineers, how did Tamome come to be?
If you want to get to market fast and not spend a fortune developing systems you have to borrow, rent and leverage. We only develop our own tech if, allowing for the opportunity cost, it is cost effective to do so. It’s also not just about our tech but infrastructure as well. Don’t spend time and effort building, configuring and running bug tracking and agile tools when they are available as low-cost online services.
So what are the guys in your team good at?
Business strategy, product strategy, team building, team leading, product management, system architecture, software architecture, UI design, graphic design, agile, lean, UI development (PhP), back-end development (C++), Linux administration, sales and campaign management (as input).
We stay sane thanks to our partners (home and work), and having a huge dose of flexibility, willingness, pragmatism and a sense of humour.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
It’s a long slog, keep at it.
It’s very rewarding (but not financially).
A good developer is 10 times more efficient than a poor one, will take up less of your time and will be far better company in a small office. Make sure you hire the good ones and don’t get overruled for budgetary reasons.
Have you got an idea for improving how we fund, make, share and enjoy art and culture?
Tax breaks are available as are some development grants through the technology strategy board (TSB) if you are developing new technology.
Find a business model that works for you where you provide a paid for service, and have that fund your technology development. That way you have an income stream and get to learn from the staff who are running the service about what happens in the real world.
Technology has a heartbeat called ‘Moore’s Law’ which drives the amount of computing power available for a fixed cost to doubles every 18 months or so. There is a similar heartbeat to screen sizes, screen resolution, network bandwidth, storage capacity etc. Find a niche that is currently hard to implement now because of the computing power required. By the time you've figured out how to do it and got most of the way there, the computing technology cost will have reduced dramatically and you will be well positioned to exploit it.
How could the work you've done in your company be relevant to art promotion and enjoyment?
Mobile technology is getting more and more prevalent. Get your art, installations, guides and advertising onto mobile in a form that is easily accessible, works on all the major platforms (apple iOS, google android, windows mobile) and tailored specifically to mobile.
For example; run mobile advertising campaigns that let you target your audience based on current location (near a gallery or show), network connection (on wifi – probably at home, in a café or work), time of day (5pm – probably at work heading out of the door). Think carefully about how you might target the right audience, take them to a brief mobile optimised site then make them a compelling offer (‘2 for 1 at the Southwark Gallery 5pm-9pm with this code’).
Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!