Monday, July 27, 2015
How Addroid Is Hoping To Solve The Ad Industry's Flash Problem, with Matt Cooper
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
There's been a huge debate over the future of Adobe's Flash raging over the last month, as both Google and Mozilla disabled Flash due to security holes and other issues. One of the side effects of the war over Flash, has been with advertisers--particularly in Hollywood--who rely on Flash to help display their advertising banners and video to users. One company which has been working on solving the Flash problem is Los Angeles-based Addroid (www.addroid.com). We spoke with Addroid founder Matt Cooper earlier this month, shortly before the war over Flash in the browser broke out.
Where do you fit into the mobile ad market?
Matt Cooper: What we're really trying to do, is reshape the advertising space. The problem out there, if you haven't heard, is that in September, Chrome is not going to autoplay Flash banners. All of digital advertising today uses Flash as a foundation technology. So, all of digital advertising is in crisis, and people are running around trying to figure out what we're going to do. It's akin to comparing digital advertising to a baker, and you're telling the baker that flour doesn't work anymore, and we need a flour replacement. What we've done in the last couple of years, while we were in stealth mode, is figure out a solution to that. We've figured out how to take the banner into 2016 and beyond. What that means, is the banner is no longer Flash, but it slcearly HTML-based, and video based. WE're providing a really affordable replacement for the standard banner, and which is counter to what the market is doing right now. Other people are trying to solve this in a big kludgy, and expensive way.
You guys were at a digital agency, can you talk about how you spun this out into an independent company?
Matt Cooper: It was a classic, scratch-your-own-itch product. I started a company, Neoganda, in the digital advertising area in 2005. We make websites, and we make banners, primarily for the entertainment industry and Hollywood. We were in the trenches, with our sleeves rolled up, building these things, and we had the epiphany that this was not going to last. Since the iPhone in 2007, we are seeing that mobile is taking over, and what we were doing was not as relevant. We decided we wanted to solve that problem, instead of waiting around to utilize some other technology invented by someone else. We started working in stealth mode on the product, and built the product and got it working. Immediately, we were selling it, and making money and revenues off of it. That allowed us to gracefully and organically scale the company, using that revenue. It was a really bootstrappy type of situation, in an area that generally doesn't get lots of press. I think it's a shining example of Silicon Beach's technology helping out Hollywod.
Was it difficult from shifting from an agency to becoming a platform developer?
Matt Cooper: It's been different, but it hasn't been a bumpy ride. It certainly has challenges. We've been interacting more with media teams, who are much more analytical, and have a math-based way of thinking, versus the creative side, where things are much more subjective. Where we were talking about if things were the right shade of blue or what color of red to use, instead, in media, you are really coming down to slicing and dicing things and talking about the numbers.
What's unique about what entertainment companies are looking for in mobile ads?
Matt Cooper: What is really unique about Hollywood-style banner ads, is they've been video-based since 2007. The standard, Flash banner, the 40K standard, was thrown down in 1998, for the days of when people were dialing up on the Internet, and Flash was the only way to get things to move around the computer. In 2007, Hollywood executives and agencies in LA came up with a format called Progressive, which basically threw out the idea of doing Flash animations with a couple of images. You ended up being able to pump about fifteen seconds of video into that banner footprint. It worked so well, Hollywood abandoned the 40K format. Some companies even stopped running some rich media, because they already had all of what they wanted in that initial banner. So, what's unique, is Hollywood sort of invented their own banner format. Addroid is following up on that, and evolving that to work in the ecosystem of 2015 and moving on.
Does what you do leverage the features of HTML5?
Matt Cooper: I think there is a misconception with HTML5 that the entire industry is going to grab onto that, and there's also a misconception it solves all of your problems. HTML5 has some limitations, especially regarding video. Videos will not autoplay on a mobile device, just because you are using HTML5 code. HTML will get you modern browsers, but won't work on old browsers. The video banner than Hollywood prefers won't work. Addroid takes that HTML5, and hops it up to the next level, with a lot of our own proprietary code. We invented our own video format, which will actually autoplay on mobile devices. We're doing a lot of things in the background, building up things like three unique, yet identical banners which we can adaptively serve up to a device, whether it's a desktop, browser, laptop, or mobile phone, or even if it's an ancient computer running Windows XP with Internet Explorer. The banner will work on that legacy stuff as well.
Finally, what are you working on next?
Matt Cooper: We're working on helping the entertainment and studio industry transition away from Flash, and into units that will work across the Internet. In the background, we're working with brands--still underNDA--for everything from shoes, videogames, and beverages--and making sure we can get their ads working, so that they're just back to work, and they're not worried about vetting new technology.