Kunal Gupta is the CEO of Polar (formerly Polar Mobile), a computer software firm based in Toronto. Polar originally focused on mobile, but has rebranded to expand its mission, now specializing in native ads. He has been recognized as a Top 30 Under 30, a United Nations Global Citizen and Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year. Look for his post on The Makegood the third Wednesday of each month.
The Makegood: Congratulations on Polar’s expansion into the UK. How is the UK advertising market unique? What are the market needs that this expansion will fulfill?
The U.K. advertising market is unique in that there’s a greater focus on agility. Advertising campaigns take just as much work as they do in North America, but reach fewer people, thus any efficiencies which can be sussed out and capitalized on make a big difference when campaigns are constructed or need to change and adapt quickly. MediaVoice gives publishers a tool that scales native advertising efforts thus offering them the flexibility and speed they need to to appeal to these advertisers and marketers. The market needs an agile partner who understands these unique needs, and Polar has grown its product and reach to fulfill them.
The Makegood: Polar has also announced partnerships with Hearst, Haymarket, Future, and Net Communities. How will these partnerships work with Polar to create a beneficial experience to the UK Market?
Polar powers the native advertising efforts publishers across North America, including the Washington Post, Pad Squad, and Law.com. These are varied publications, encompassing B2B, headline news, and format focused journalism. We bring not only the technological achievements we’ve pioneered in the serving of native advertising, but the knowledge gained through seeing sponsored content from an idea to implementation. This experience allows us to help the emerging market in the U.K. with best practices intelligence when it comes to pricing, content creation, and packaging. Publishers which chose Polar can safely skip a few steps when it comes to the initial set up of their native ads business, knowing we have the experience to backup the technology and education MediaVoice offers.
The Makegood: How has the UK market paved the path for native advertising in 2014?
Native advertising is expanding in the U.K. at such a pace that its raised the eyebrows of their IAB faction. Marketers are quickly realizing that campaigns made for a North American audience don’t necessarily translate directly into the market. Quality native advertising needs to understand its audience, and those publishers and marketers that understand this are excelling. Take BuzzFeed for example. They entered the U.K. market almost 10 months ago and are still catching up with the demand for quality sponsored content. They say they have no real competitors in the country – this is a clear sign established publishers need to jump into the mix before someone else eats their lunch.
The Makegood: What is the benefit of native advertising, and how will Polar be utilizing its technology and its partnerships to obtain these benefits?
Native advertising is the last premium ad product publishers have. It’s value is based directly on the quality of the publication in which they appear. Readers love it as it usually predicated eon a topic they are already interested in, especially if the publication knows its readers well. The format works seamlessly on both desktop and mobile – good content is good content no matter how you read it. Lately, ad networks have come out of the woodwork, claiming that offering up this premium inventory to them is the key to monetization with the format. Polar believes the opposite is true. MediaVoice works so well with publications because it disappears, letting you publish sponsored content as you would any story in your publication, but track it like you would an ad. It doesn’t sully or devalue the relationship a publication has developed with their readers (some of which last generations). Instead, MediaVoice gets out of the way and let’s publishers do what they do best: Present captivating stories to their loyal audiences.