Toms Panders of Setupad tells us about how to earn more money through ads on your website traffic with buying it.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Setupad.
Toms Panders: I’ve been working in the advertising industry for more than 10 years now. In 2015 I saw the possibility of helping publishers who didn’t have extensive AdOps teams to have maximum monetization efficiency for their websites. To solve this problem, Setupad was founded–a monetization platform that helps publishers earn more money from advertising by improving programmatic solutions.
In the beginning, I reached out to several ad exchanges and tech providers to become their partners. Together with Setupad COO Povilas Goberis, we started onboarding our service and received very positive feedback. In 2016 Setupad began to generate some profit and was able to expand.
We have developed an in-house header bidding technology by which we can offer publishers’ ad inventory to multiple demand sources worldwide at the same time, thus maximizing publishers’ ad revenue. Now publishers don’t have to worry about getting multiple ad buyers, like Google and OpenX themselves, and making them all work together in a way that doesn’t undersell publishers’ ad inventory.
How does Setupad innovate?
Toms Panders: At the time we started, there was less competition in the field. Even though we are aware of the competition, we have never looked at what they are doing. Our goal is thinking outside of the box, taking a fresh look at problems from a different perspective, and trying to solve them while others might have failed to do it.
Curiosity, tireless testing, and fulfilling our customers’ needs have brought many Setupad solutions to the top-notch. Each year Setupad solutions become even more advanced than before. Since every website is different, we provide an individual approach and personalized solution for each publisher. With a combination of header bidding technology and an expert team, we can innovate new solutions and practices.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Toms Panders: Global pandemic affected internet user trends and changed advertiser activities that impacted publishers’ ad revenue. Advertisers were bidding with smaller prices or didn’t bid on publishers’ ad inventories at all.
According to our data, we see that the ad revenue has decreased for some of our publishers; however, thanks to new ad formats in the industry, we have managed to balance or even increase the ad revenue.
In 2020 Setupad turnover was 7.8mln€ compared to 2019 4.8mln€. The plan is to double it in 2021, reaching 16mln€.
What are the lessons you have learned on your business journey?
Toms Panders: In the beginning, we made several mistakes; however, it led us to a sustainable business model without pressure from investors. So, I wouldn’t change a thing because it allowed us to become the company we are today. However, I must say that Setupad growth could have been much quicker with the external investment.
Our company’s success is that we understood the potential of header bidding before it was the trend and became an industry standard. Currently, almost all top 10K US publishers use header bidding to increase their ad revenue. We were lucky to catch a trend quite early and be ahead of the competition.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Toms Panders: For the team to be internally efficient, we have developed a tool that works as an account management system called ‘Setupad Workbench.’
This tool helps us find, store, and analyze all the necessary information about our clients’ ad inventories more efficiently.
With ‘Setupad Workbench’, we also reward our top-performing employees by handing them the badges.
Moreover, last year, we upgraded our Client Dashboard (aka Setupad Client UI). Besides basic monetization stats, we have added performance metrics like ad refresh revenue and revenue distribution by eCPM deciles, to name a few. By adding these advanced stats, we provide more transparency for publishers. Due to more in-depth analysis, they can see insights that can help to improve the whole inventory or individual ad placement performance to enhance the overall yield in the long term.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Toms Panders: Since Setupad started as a bootstrap startup, there was no additional outside investment. Setupad continuously fuels growth internally from cash flow produced by the business.
Your final thoughts?
Toms Panders: The Covid-19 pandemic has affected publishers’ ad revenue because advertisers bid on impressions with lower prices. However, due to seasonality in programmatic, we still saw that advertisers spent their big ad budgets in November and December (Black Friday, Christmas, Cyber Monday), but they became quieter at the beginning of the year.
I’m pretty confident that in the near future, we will face even more significant competition. However, each year, Setupad solutions become even more advanced, and we are planning to slowly shift our business to a SaaS model.
This business model provides a complete implementation of header bidding technology into the publisher’s website that later on can be managed by the publisher’s AdOps team or Setupad. Currently, we are already on this path, and for the future, Setupad will have less growth in turnover but more growth in profits.
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