Advertising Technology

SiteScout’s Paul Mokbel on Self-Serve Advertising

Paul Mokbel is CEO and Founder of SiteScout, a Canadian self-serve advertising platform for small businesses, digital advertising professionals and global brands. The Makegood recently spoke with Paul about SiteScout’s powerful self-serve advertising platform.

The Makegood: Nowadays, ad tech companies are often launched by being backed by major VCs. SiteScout, however, has a different and interesting story. Can you tell us how it all began?

The company was started in the southwestern Caribbean sea. Literally. I was on a sail boat, anchored off the coast of Colombia on an extended break, when I first started writing the code that would eventually become the SiteScout media buying platform. At the time, I was exploring options for buying ads online, and I found that there was a lack of tools for small- and medium-sized advertisers. I realized that this gap in the market provided an opportunity to change the way digital media was bought and sold, so I decided to create technology to address it. It began with a third-party ad server for media buyers in early 2010, and by the summer, right around the time that real-time bidding started to really take off, I focused my efforts on building a platform for SMBs to access this new way of ad buying.

The fact that SiteScout’s platform was both powerful and easy-to-use gave our target customers the ability to run successful campaigns, and created immediate demand for the product. As a result, we never had a need for VC funding. We have achieved the rapid growth that we have organically.

The Makegood: Can you tell us about SiteScout’s offering? How does it work?

To begin with, we have made our platform very accessible. Advertisers can create an account, and begin buying display, video or mobile advertising within minutes. Platform access is free and our minimum deposit is only $500. Furthermore, we manage all third-party relationships (e.g. exchanges, data providers, etc.), which dramatically simplifies the media buying process for our customers.

The platform itself is very powerful, yet still easy-to-use. SiteScout is integrated with all major inventory sources, which means that our customers have the ability to bid on over 9 billion impressions every single day from a single interface. They can bid on inventory on specific sites, on pages with specific content, or buy specific audiences on virtually all sites across the web. We also allow advertisers to retarget users.

In addition, we are one of the few platforms that report these stats in real time (up to the minute), meaning that our customers are able to make quick decisions – which, in the end, saves them money and increases their chances of success.

The Makegood: SiteScout’s customer base is made up of a part of the market that is the biggest but often ignored: Small and Medium Sized Business. What is it about SiteScout that works well for SMBs?

Since we have ‘walked a mile’ in advertisers’ shoes, so to speak, we have a fundamental understanding of what small- and mid-sized media buyers need. We built the platform to offer the same powerful features that were available to large agencies, but re-engineered them to be more accessible and easier-to-use.

One sore spot for us as media buyers was the opaqueness in the media buying process, so we designed our platform to be as transparent as possible. For instance, our customers are not only able to determine what sites they are buying on, but actually drill down to where on the page their ads are being served.

Our aim is to empower small- and mid-sized media buyers, and to provide them with the tools they need to run successful display, mobile and video campaigns, much in the way that paid search works. And, I think the fact that we have signed up 5,000 advertisers to date suggests that we are doing that.

The Makegood: Can you tell us about some recent client successes? 

We had a mid-sized brand agency running a national campaign for a major automotive parts company. The agency was tasked with driving a specific amount of traffic to this auto company’s website, while meeting certain goals in terms of maximum CPM, target click-through rate and acceptable bounce rate.

The agency started by testing different contextual categories, and determining which ones were most likely to achieve the desired results. Once they had optimized at the contextual level, they further refined their campaigns by targeting specific sites that matched the company’s target audience. Finally, they optimized the campaign at the site level, turning off placements that weren’t delivering the necessary results, and funneling budget into the ones that were.

By doing this, the agency not only met their customer’s success criteria, but surpassed them by more than double. Needless to say, their client was very happy.

The Makegood: Thanks, Paul.