Going by mostly under the radar, last week saw a big hook-up between a major Russian mobile advertiser and Indian-founded mobile advertising network ZestAdz. This is another connection between the enormous Russian and APAC markets, which can achieve an economy of scale unseen anywhere else in the world.
What’s the story?
ZestAdz began as a wholly Indian mobile advertiser, but has since grown into a global network with its HQ in Los Angeles. Currently serving somewhere over 2.5 billion impressions every month, ZestAdz is pretty eager to add more countries to the roster of places it can serve ads to – at the moment it has a huge presence in the Americas, Europe, India, South Africa and certain Asian markets. In all the previous releases I’ve seen from ZestAdz, I’ve never seen Russia mentioned – which, I’m guessing, was the major factor in driving this deal forward.
Who are WapStart?
As you might guess from the name, this is a mobile Internet focused advertising company. It’s claims to be the biggest advertiser serving the Russian “mobi-net”, with over 300 publishers and 30 million daily impressions. The main product it sells is called Plus1 – a self-service platform that lets advertisers browse a catalogue of available mobile websites to publish through, as well as optimizing ads, providing analytics, etc. WapStart has some serious Russian players on board with Plus1, including operators like MTS and Megafon, and brands like Nokia.
What we think?
There’s a question hanging over display advertising on mobile, and that question is “does this really work?” A lot of people are beginning to think that unless there’s a basic level of interaction involved (be it through Rich Media ads, personalized SMS, or what have you), that basic display banners on mobile will just roll off people. That may be true when it comes to small or localized campaigns – but campaigns of scale may still be effective for brands the size of which WapStart and ZestAdz like to attract. And these are two companies that can certainly achieve scale.
And, from the point of view of WapStart, the more large ad networks like ZestAdz which pay attention to Russia the better. There is a vast network of ads that flow around the world, and hooking up to it can pull in a lot of revenue.