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MeasurableMediaLabs.com: A Company that Conducts Advertising Case Studies for Online Publishers

MeasurableMediaLabs.com: A Company that Conducts Advertising Case Studies for Online Publishers

MeasurableMediaLabs.com is the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for online advertisers by validating the CPM publishers charge in order for publishers to be successful.

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We had a very interesting and intuitive interview with Mr. ‘Neil Monnens‘; CEO of the US (San Francisco)-based start-up “Measurable Media Labs” regarding his Company. Mr. Monnens’s valuable and detailed answers covered all aspects of his Company which has given us a much better insight into what his start-up is all about.

“MeasurableMediaLabs.com” is a Company that conducts advertising case studies for online publishers.

Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. Monnens regarding his start-up “MeasurableMediaLabs.com”;

1. What is it exactly that you do and what “Measurable Media Labs” is all about?

We are to be the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for online advertisers by validating the CPM publishers charge in order for publishers to be successful.

The top 10 media companies commanded 72% of total ad revenue in Q2 2011, according to IAB/PriceWaterhouseCoopers. 

We want to help the remaining 28% of the web sites to prove their ad performance to increase their online advertising revenue.

We want media planners and advertisers to discover new advertising opportunities that are less risky to test since they have been vetted by a third party, Measurable Media Labs, LLC.

2. When has “Measurable Media Labs” been founded? And what stage is “Measurable Media Labs” currently at?

We launched Measurable Media Labs in April 2012 and we are self-funded. We are focusing on developing our advertiser client base and performing for our initial publishers, while simultaneously building our brand with advertisers and publishers.

We have a salesperson in the East Coast and one in the West Coast who both call on the advertisers and media planners while I service the publishers.


3. What is “Measurable Media Labs”’s business model and how does it work?

Publishers give us $50,000 worth of ad impressions at no charge. The advertiser pays us $10,000 for the space in exchange for data on how well the publisher performed (conversion rate and cost-per-conversion).

We share that data with the publisher half way through the advertising campaign so they can adjust their CPM if they choose. We then publish the case study at the end of the campaign with the conversion rate and/or cost-per-conversion results for the publisher to use.

4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?

We are currently three people. I am responsible for the relationship with the publishers and I have two salespeople (East and West) who work with the advertisers.

My background is primarily in media planning (DDB/Needham Los Angeles, Bozell Los Angeles, Tallant LaPointe San Francisco, Anderson & Lembke San Francisco and Universal McCann San Francisco. I also have client side experience having worked at Oracle in advertising in 1993 and ad sales experience having co-founded WebRep, the first online representation firm in 1996.

I have known our West Coast salesperson, Leslie Piper, since college. She worked in online ad sales for IDG and CMP for PC World, InfoWorld, Macworld and CMO magazine, as well as Windows, InformationWeek, and InternetWeek. Leslie managed and sold integrated media solutions to new and existing accounts including HP, Apple, Adobe and Fujitsu as well as major TV and cable networks; Fox Sports, Lifetime and Hallmark Channel.

Our East Coast salesperson, Alessandra (Ale) Lasanta, called on me when she was at IDG and I was planning media for Microsoft at Universal McCann. Ale worked in sales at IDG, Forbes.com and American Greetings. At IDG, she called on the top 20 US IT clients on a corporate level managing the west coast sales team and responsible for $7 million in sales. At Forbes.com, she was responsible for creating and managing advertising and sponsorships sales for clients such as Barclays, Franklin Templeton, Visa, Charles Schwab and SalesForce.com

5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?

We are the only third party validation source for performance-related advertiser campaign data.

Publishers currently create their own case studies, a time consuming process, where the marketing department asks the salespeople to find advertisers who are willing to provide their conversion numbers. That isn’t an easy job. 

Third party validation from Measurable Media Labs is much more credible than publisher’s own study. A Digiday study showed that only 6% of brands and 16% of agencies surveyed said they “strongly believe” media sellers’ claim that they can reach the custom or niche audiences that brands seek. 

Our process also requires very little internal work on behalf of the publisher. Because we have advertisers already signed up with campaigns in market, we can create a case study in a matter of a few months, with the majority of time spent in market for the case study. A combination of the advertiser’s budget and the publisher’s traffic volume will determine the time the case study is in market (anywhere from one to three months).

Lastly, it is difficult for a publisher to offer an advertiser free advertising then ask the advertiser to pay next time. Salespeople don’t get much commission from offering free advertising.

6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “Measurable Media Labs” achieved so far?

Now in our third month and we have two publishers and over a dozen advertisers signed up..

After we publish our first case studies and publicize to the advertising community, I predict our business with thrive with new publishers and advertisers alike. I predict significant repeat business as the advertisers and publishers realize how beneficial our offering is.

7. Who are your competitors? And what is “Measurable Media Labs”’s competitive advantage over them?

I hate it when people say “we don’t have any competition” because there are usually other companies that compete for the same audience or dollars. With Measurable Media Labs, we don’t have direct competitors but we indirectly compete with Dynamic Logic, Vizu and the publisher’s own internal case study methods.

Dynamic Logic and Vizu is bought by the media planner and performed over their media plan on all of the publishers. They measure brand lift/awareness. Measurable Media Labs currently measures performance but we can also partner with Dynamic Logic and Vizu and offer brand awareness and lift studies since we have access to publishers who want to prove their web site ad performance. 

Our advantage is we that know the average cost per and conversion rate for an advertiser’s campaign. We share that information with the publisher. Normally the publisher does not receive that information from the advertiser. Usually the advertiser will say “you performed a little better than average” with no other guidance.

The publisher could be leaving a lot of money on the table in the form of a higher CPM. Or worse, the publisher is told “you didn’t perform well” without additional guidance on just how poorly they did perform. The advertiser is not likely to give the publisher another chance.

In our model, since the advertiser is paying only 20% of the value, the publisher should perform and then we back out the CPM where the publisher would be to be average and then the publisher decides how much “better than average” they want to be by lowering the CPM.

8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?

We started with 0 publishers and 0 advertisers. We needed advertisers to get publishers and publishers to get advertisers. Within a week of launch we had our first publisher. Attracting advertisers was relatively easy since I have a network of friends and former coworkers in online advertising.

Getting publishers is a little more challenging since I have to research new publishers, determine if they meet our requirements, then cold call since my background is mostly with large publishers.

Another obstacle we face is our business concept is new and not easy to understand. It is a new concept for a publisher to give away ad impressions in exchange for a case study.

Advertisers benefit from heavily discounted media (80% off) but also realize that the publisher is not getting paid so it is in the publisher’s best interest that the ad impressions they provide perform for the advertiser.

9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?

How important case studies are in the advertising field. The job of the media planner (the gatekeeper of their advertiser client’s budget) is to reach the target audience in the most cost efficient manner. They are bombarded with emails and phone calls from sites wanting a piece of their online ad budget.

Media planners have to be conservative with their ad choices since they are spending their client’s money and not their own. They have to justify their recommendation. Having a case study from a third party source is invaluable to a publisher since it is third party proof that the web site has performed for advertisers in the past. It removes a big barrier in the mind of the media planner.

10. Why are you going to succeed?

We know the market well, we have the skills, determination and commitment to be successful. Also, we are the first to fill this need.

I co-founded the first online advertising representation firm, WebRep, in 1996. We merged it in 1998 and sold to CMGI in 1999. Before WebRep I was a media planner working at large agencies (Bozell, DDB/Needham, Anderson & Lembke) working on large businesses (Rockwell, Asics, Universal Pictures, Microsoft) as well as client side at Oracle Corporation.

Having media planning, client ad experience and media selling experience is pivotal to what we are doing at Measurable Media Labs. I understand the media planner, the advertiser and the publisher as well as how to launch and grow a company.

11. If “Measurable Media Labs” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?

Phase two will be to measure video ad performance and validate non-standard ad sizes, audience segment data as well as search alternatives and out of the box advertising opportunities.

Our goal is to measure any advertising opportunity by providing advertisers that are willing to test the opportunity for the publisher.

12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “Measurable Media Labs” based on?

Proving advertiser performance for publishers is a marketplace need. There are a lot of advertising-based solutions for advertisers. Measurable Media Labs will wade through the opportunities, highlight the performers, and document the results. 

I have a side web site business called WineBlueBook.com where I rank wines by the critics score and price to show the value of the wine. I advertise on Google AdWords and know exactly the CPC/Conversion rate/CPA where I break even.

I thought it would be attractive to a publisher if I could provide those numbers to them in exchange for heavily discounted advertising on their site and then let them know how they compare against Google. I thought if I could do that with WineBlueBook, why not do this for all publishers and top advertisers?

13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?

The idea of giving advertisers a huge discount in exchange for the performance data of the publisher (and average overall campaign performance numbers) is simple, but understanding the concept takes some concentration because it is a new way to do business.

Once understood the concept makes sense. We are constantly refining our message to make it more easily absorbed by our target audience.

14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?

Scale will be an issue as more publishers and advertisers equate to more work for our company. Knowing this, we are building our company with growth in mind, so that we can leverage best practices that we develop.

We will also build a self-service model that will service both small and large publishers.

15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?

For the advertiser it is simple: value. Advertisers receive 80% off ad impressions by paying only $10,000 for $50,000 worth of ad space.

If the publisher performs well with their conversion rate and/or cost-per, the publisher will have a case study showing proof of their web site performance to other advertisers.

Instead of publishers off-loading their unsold ad impressions to the ad exchanges, the site can get a case study. The publisher has 2 chances to win with either a better than average conversion rate and/or a better than average cost per.

16. How did customers/users find out about you?

The usual social sites; Facebook, LinkedIn as well as an article in MediaPost ( http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/171730/new-online-ad-model-gives-brands-inventory-for-fre.html) plus our network of friends and former co-workers.

Media planners are telling their co-workers which help us spread the word in the ad agency community and when we finish and publish our first case studies, the case studies will do our publicity work.

17. Who are your current customers/users? Who are your target customers/users?

Our current advertisers are Fortune 1000 in size. Our background is working with large companies and because of our requirements, we work with larger advertisers.

Our advertisers must have a recognizable national brand name, a banner campaign in market with at least 5+ display vendors with a trackable goal and a media budget of $250,000 or more a month, and be willing to provide CPA/Conversion numbers in exchange for heavily discounted pricing.

Our publishers range in size from medium to large. We require that our publishers have at least $500,000 worth of advertising space each month, enough unsold inventory to allow for $50,000 worth of ad impressions be allocated to a case study, accept IAB standard ad banner sizes, are national, with the ability to advertise to US only, have content that advertisers don’t object, have a realistic CPM, and are amenable to lowering the CPM to increase their performance.

18. Where do new customers/users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?

New advertisers are coming from referrals from media planner co-workers who have heard of our company or we have personally pitched the idea.

Publisher referrals are also coming from advertisers/media planners who know about us and have been pitched by unproven sites and have recommended to the publishers that a Measurable Media Labs case study would help their marketing efforts.

19. What do your customers/users say about your product and/or service?

The usual social sites; Facebook, LinkedIn as well as an article in MediaPost ( http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/171730/new-online-ad-model-gives-brands-inventory-for-fre.html) plus our network of friends and former co-workers.

Media planners are telling their co-workers which help us spread the word in the ad agency community and when we finish and publish our first case studies, the case studies will do our publicity work.

20. How are you going to scale?

From a publisher perspective, case studies are addicting. Once you do one and promote it, you want another in a different advertising category so you can attract a different category of advertisers. Case studies give web sites something new to promote.

We predict we will scale with multiple case studies for each publisher. Each case study gets easier to implement for both parties.

From an advertiser perspective, once Measurable Media Labs is understood and we present them targeted web site advertising solutions for $10,000 for $50,000 worth of space, it is a no brainer for the advertiser. We predict advertisers will want to test multiple publishers on a regular basis since the risk is so small.

21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?

Currently our advertisers and publishers are asking for non-standard ad forms, video and mobile. At launch, we are concentrating on the low hanging display banner direct response ad impressions. As we grow our advertiser list, we will be able to test other ad formats and awareness/preference studies as well as performance.

22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?

Yes, Europe will be our first location outside the US and our goal to launch in Europe is 2015. When you think about it, there is a significant need for Measurable Media Labs when the media planner is located in the US and they are planning media outside the US. It is tough to know what media works unless you are in that market and spending dollars.

When I was planning media in Germany, France and Italy for a US advertiser in the early 90’s, I would heavily rely on the sales reps data to see to whom they compared themselves in the market. When a publisher sales rep shows you their study and claims they are number one, the telling fact will be the number two magazine. After you see the same magazine compared over and over, you realize they are a player in that space. 

Having third party independent data from real world ad campaigns will help the media planner in the US, but even more overseas.

23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?

Online ad growth is huge since the advertisers follow the eyeballs and those eyeballs are viewing online media more each day. As online ad opportunities pop up, they will need to validate the product they sell to the advertisers. We will be the de facto validation source; therefore, we think we can get big even if the online ad market doesn’t. There is an oversupply of ad impressions. We will steer the advertiser toward the ad impressions that are most valuable.

When media planners and advertisers tell a new publisher “We only consider sites that have been vetted by Measurable Media Labs” then we will have accomplished one of our goals. We will accomplish this with awareness of our services as well as our sales force who understand customer service.

24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?

I am conservative with my hires and realize how important it is to find the right people in the early stages of a business, so likely will hire people we already know, but we’re always on the lookout for strong talent. 

In the next 6 months my guess is we will hire a marketing/PR professional, a person to recruit web sites and definitively more salespeople to call on the advertisers and media planners.

If interested in joining us, email info@MeasurableMediaLabs.com

25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?

We are self-sustainable and not looking for funding at this time. Our primary capital need is for employees and not technology, therefore our startup funding need is not capital intense. 

When we get to our second phase, we will develop an online system to allow for scalable growth and smaller advertiser and publisher acceptance.

26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?

First and foremost is to write a full business plan even if you never plan on accepting funding. Business plans address all the facets of the business and make you put goals to give yourself guidance.

27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

If you are a publisher and meet our qualifications: 

- Have $500,000 or more in media value each month
- Have enough unsold inventory to allow for $50,000 worth of impressions to be allocated to a case study
- Accept standard IAB ad banners
- Are national sites with ability to advertise to US only
- Want to increase their direct display advertising revenue
- Have web content upon which an advertiser would not object
- Employ a direct sales force
- Understand the value of advertising case studies
- Have a realistic CPM
- Are amenable to lowering their CPM to increase their performance

Then please contact us.

If you are a national advertiser and meet our qualifications: 

- A recognizable national brand
- Have a banner based campaign with standard IAB ad sizes
- Have direct response as the goal and the goal is trackable
- Has 5+ display vendors included on the plan
- Has a media budget of $250,000+ spend per month
- Willing to provide CPL/Conversion numbers in exchange for discounted pricing

Please contact us as well and when we have an appropriate publisher, we will contact you.

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