Advertising Technology

Chris Cunningham on Customized Brand Experience

Chris Cunningham co-founded appsavvy, an activity advertising technology company and serves as CEO. We recently spoke with Chris about customized brand experience and upcoming initiatives.

The Makegood: Chris, you launched appssavvy in late 2007 focusing on integrating customized brand experiences on Facebook. What motivated you to launch this business?

CC: In co-founding the company with Michael Burke, president, the two of us had more than 20 years of combined experience in digital advertising and we were frustrated by the lack of innovation in advertising. We saw the lack of focus on users and Facebook opening its platform to developers presented a new frontier that had not been leveraged and the perfect canvas to innovate and start a business focused on native advertising.
It was the opportunity to showcase how native advertising would work for publishers and developers, and people. Our vision since day has been and continues today to push the rethinking of the delivery and reception of advertising.

The Makegood: In late 2010, appssavvy began to move towards a technology offering. What made management make this decision?

CC: While we drove more than 1,000 native campaigns via Facebook and moble, we learned that creating a custom integration business wasn’t scalable. The market, including both advertisers and publishers, were excited about our offering, but wanted us to provide more efficiency. This pushed us to develop proprietary technology – the adtivity platform – delivering true scale, while delivering beautiful ads and, most importantly an experience focused on people that improves publisher and developers creations on Facebook, the web and mobile.

The Makegood: Late last year, adtivity, a publisher-facing platform that offers new inventory based on native activities, was launched. Can you tell us about the offering? Are there any initial results that you can share?

CC: The adtivity platform does several things that breaks the traditional mindset of advertising, while driving disruption and needed change. First, adtivity is a people powered platform for publishers and users by determining natural breaks in the experience. In addition, our ad frame dynamically pulls the context of what a user just did outside of the ad to bring relevance to the advertising delivered. Second, advertising used to be about large, beautiful ads with messaging that sparked emotion. That has been lost on digital platforms. Our goal is to bring back creative to digital advertising. Finally, our ads are 100 percent viewable, center-of-the-experience across multiple screens, including Facebook web and mobile. The results over the past 18 months have been the through the roof. We’re seeing on average 10-15X over traditional display advertising.

adtivity is already recognized by comScore and their measurement shows we already can reach 54.2 million monthly unique visitors, and that doesn’t include our mobile or International reach. In all, adtivity already reaches more than 80 million people. We’re proving every single day that understanding what people are doing, the context and the timing make a huge difference in the delivery and reception of advertising.

The Makegood: What are the next steps for aditivty? What initiatives can marketers expect to see next?

CC: Our goal is for adtivity to be used by the entire publisher ecosystem, whether on Facebook, the we or mobile, the same way DoubleClick developed tools and technology for traditional dollars to enter digital in the late 1990’s, when the Internet was a page view, page based era. A lot has changed. Today, it’s not about pages, it’s about people. Next generation publishers will need to leverage activities to offer true value for both users and advertisers, and adtivity is the pioneering technology platform. By tapping into the activity data that we’ve been collecting, we hope to continue to provide the ad community enormous value in reaching people at theright time, based on their activities.
From an adtivity product standpoint, we’re making tremendous progress through the learnings over the past year in the marketplace. We recently launched the adtivity publisher portal, a comprehensive dashboard and rich analytics to manage unlocked and newly created activity-based ad inventory. With publishers we’re constantly testing, learning and improving, on the already strong results adtivity is producing. As an example, we recently analyzed the adtivity ad frame, which provides publishers a vehicle to communicate to people, while providing context for an advertisement. We found design matters — a lot, boosting the click and interaction rates significantly. We’re now rolling these learnings out to all of our publisher partners.

We’re making significant strides in targeting activities for advertisers. Stay tuned for news on adtivity Channels. And, we’re bringing creative back into the digital mix with big, beautiful ads — a significant change to the limitations put on the industry by standard and small boxes of today’s digital advertising experience.

What we look forward to is an industry that will embrace a positive and needed change to how and when ads are delivered. We believe the adtivity platform will be the cornerstone to that change.

The Makegood: Thanks, Chris.