SponsorPay's Projjol Banerjea on how value-exchange advertising is driving the mobile business

It's up 300 percent during 2012

SponsorPay's Projjol Banerjea on how value-exchange advertising is driving the mobile business
With app search and discovery consistently referred to 'broken' on mobile, the importance of user acquisition shows no signs of declining.

If anything, the growing number of devices, combined with a landgrab among big publishers, looks likely to further overheat the market.

That's good news for companies such as Sponsorpay.

The one-time web monetisation outfit has rapidly become one of the players on mobile. Bringing over its technology and clients from the web space, it's seen its mobile business grow 300 percent in 6 months.

We caught up with Projjol Banerjea, VP marketing & talent, to find out more about the transition of its business.

Pocket Gamer: You're best known for web monetisation, so why is mobile interesting for SponsorPay?

Projjol Banerjea: Mobile is a very exciting area for us because it allows us to leverage our strengths in the online/web space while simultaneously tapping into the fastest growing platform around.

We're one of the few companies that have embraced the opportunity to offer our value-exchange advertising solution in a platform-agnostic manner to our partners. It's a bet that's certainly paid off for us.

Our advertiser clients are eager to reach their customers wherever they are - whether on PCs, tablets or smartphones. SponsorPay's cross-platform products present them with the ability to do so in a seamless fashion.

For many of our publisher clients, who've also taken a cross-platform approach to development, we're an easy choice. Others who are mobile-only appreciate some of the unique benefits we can deliver thanks to our expertise in the online space.

Of course, we're careful to recognise the nuances and intricacies of each platform and tailor our products accordingly.

How does your web experience help in the mobile space?

Our extensive experience with both direct response advertising and engagement marketing enables us to offer unique mobile products that ensure value to our partners.

On the user acquisition side of the business, our innovative cost-per-engagement (CPE) campaigns have been staggeringly effective at ensuring our clients not only acquire droves of new users but, more importantly, loyal ones.

On the monetisation side, we have an extensive portfolio of advertising offers from our online business that we optimise for our mobile offer wall, banners and interstitials. These mobile cost-per-action (mCPA) campaigns have been remarkably successful, especially on iOS, since they allow us to offer unmatched advertising inventory.

In general, we've always taken a very data-driven approach towards boosting performance and this is especially beneficial in the mobile space, which is possibly even more analytics-focused than online.

How important do you think virtual currency is in driving user activity, especially compared to real world rewards?

Virtual currency and in-app rewards are extremely important because they increase engagement, stickiness and retention. By rewarding users with currency and items that can be used within an app, developers incentivise them to return to the app, thereby boosting DAU and MAU metrics, as well as median user session length.

In particular, value-exchange advertising (of course, you can call me biased) empowers developers with an effective and lucrative alternative to seeding i.e. they can avail of the benefits of users sampling currency and premium content without having to give those out gratis.

Real world rewards such as gift cards and retail discounts are also well received by users. But there is greater likelihood of post-redemption abandonment since they do little bring users back to and/or spend more time in the app (save for the aspiration of any future such rewards).

You've recently launched Unlock. Can you explain how that works?

It allows mobile users to gain direct access to digital goods, premium content or even upgrade from free to paid apps by completing advertising offers.

Consequently, it enables app developers to significantly improve monetisation rates in a manner that does not involve virtual currency.

Developers have utilised Unlock in a variety of ways for their users to level up in games or access specific virtual goods. But what's been even more interesting is how developers in verticals beyond gaming - such as music, communication and dating - are using it to convert users from free to paid versions of their apps.

We're also going to launch mobile BrandEngage, which brings our flagship engagement marketing solution to mobile apps.

Why do you think video advertising is becoming so popular on mobile?

People are becoming more accustomed to consuming video and rich media on their mobile devices and that's propelling mobile video ad budgets.

The advent and widespread adoption of larger screens on mobile devices - especially tablets - is facilitating the emergence of mobile video.

ComScore's new report
is quite telling:

  • One in every four smartphone users also use a tablet

  • Tablet users are nearly three times more likely to watch video on their device compared to smartphone users

  • One in every 10 tablet users view video content almost daily on their device

I also think the challenges that have been holding mobile video back are mostly technical - network latency as well device/platform fragmentation - and these issues are being addressed.

What's SponsorPay's geographical spread, and are you focusing on any particular areas?

Our largest markets are the usual suspects i.e. the US and western Europe. We've always been regarded as a European player since our headquarters in Berlin is where we have our largest footprint.

However, we now also have three offices in the US - San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York - and a rapidly-growing US team.

Asia is also very much on our radar and we hope to grow our presence there (we currently have a team in Tokyo as well as some presence in south Korea) in a strategic manner.

Do you think advertisers' attitude towards mobile advertising is changing?

Certainly. Even a year and a half ago, many of our advertiser partners were less than enthusiastic about mobile advertising. Others regarded it as a necessary evil.

However, there is growing interest in this sphere as all data and studies/research point to mobile rapidly becoming mainstream. As smartphone penetration breaches the 50 percent mark, and tablets gain ground on PCs, mobile is no longer a domain that is looked askance upon by advertisers.

However, the term mobile advertising is fairly broad and there are an ever-increasing number of companies that provide a diverse selection of options for advertisers.

Consequently, there's a fair bit of nebulousness and confusion. This is only natural for what in many ways is still a young industry, but it does make it harder to distinguish oneself in the market.

Thanks to Projjol for his time.You can find out more about SponsorPay's products here

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.