isocket has created a technology-driven direct sales platform that connects premium publishers with motivated advertisers

By Editor November 29, 2012

A Q&A with isocket CFO Mark Liao. The Burlingame, California–based company was founded in 2009 and raised $8 million in Series A funding in late October. Investors include Foundry Group.

SUB: Please describe isocket and your value proposition.

Liao: isocket’s mission is to make it easier for advertiser and publishers to do business together directly. We build tools for publishers to sell their premium ad inventory directly to buyers of all shapes. We are also the easiest way for advertisers to find and buy directly from some of the top publishers on the web. We significantly reduce the friction and lower the costs for both advertisers and publishers.

SUB: Who are your target markets and users?

Liao: On the publisher side the target market is mid-to-top tier publishers who see direct sales as a significant part of their business. On the advertiser side we work with anyone that wants to buy directly from a premium publisher in a fast and efficient manner. For example, advertisers can find, buy, and execute a media plan in as little as five minutes.

SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?

Liao: There are a few large and medium sized ad tech companies that do parts and pieces of our offering, but no one has been as focused on programmatic premium display advertising like isocket has. However, we anticipate more players in this space as the market starts to realize the opportunity of what we are doing.

SUB: What differentiates isocket from the competition?

Liao: isocket is laser-focused on programmatic premium. We have strategic relationships with ad serving technologies such as Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers. Our catalogue is comprised of over 1,500 premium publishers. Our team is comprised of some of the most talented players in the industry and we are backed by some of the best ad tech investors in the world.

SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?

Liao: The company was founded in 2009. Our Founder, CEO John Ramey, moved to Silicon Valley during the worst part of the recession. He started working on an app that made self-serve sales for publishers easier, and we were lucky to land TechCrunch as our first publisher when it was just John in an apartment with a prototype.

SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for isocket? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?

Liao: The inspiration behind isocket came from our founder’s personal experience of the difficulties in doing display advertising on the web. As a result, he wanted to find a way to make it easier for advertisers and publishers to find each other and do business.

SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?

Liao: Anytime you’re doing something actually innovative, instead of the all too common marginal improvements, there are always things stacked against you. Especially in a B-to-B business. Our founder was the youngest entrepreneur to raise first VC in 2009, which was initially a struggle. Hiring the right people, saying no to the right things, and sticking to your guns about the vision. We’re thrilled that the market has evolved and is embracing the work isocket’s doing

SUB: You just raised $8 million in Series A funding. What are your plans for the funds?

Liao: We are working on affecting change in a world that has many legacy and antiquated processes. The new funds will be used mainly to hire more employees in our Burlingame and New York offices with a focus on product, engineering, sales and marketing.

SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise more outside funding?

Liao: isocket made great traction on our product and business the past 12 months. Our KPIs are exceeding our internal goals which backs up our thesis on programmatic premium display advertising and made us more confident the timing is right.

SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?

Liao: isocket doesn’t work like a traditional ad network or rep firm. Instead, publishers pay a fee for our tools and platform when they have successful orders.

SUB: What are your goals for isocket over the next year or so?

Liao: Continue to deliver well built, well designed magical products that reduce the friction for publishers and advertisers. We would like to accelerate how we help advertisers become more efficient with their work flows and behaviors to make premium display buying easier as well as assist publishers to improve yield on their premium inventory.

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