Sharetize seeks to disrupt advertising by creating an ad and publisher network for micro social networks
A Q&A with Sharetize founder and CSO James Faulkner. The Palo Alto–based company was founded in the Fall of 2011 and launched to the public the first week of January.
SUB: Please describe Sharetize and your value proposition.
Faulkner: Our value proposition is very clear for each of our three audience segments.
To our primary user base—publishers—we provide them content of interest to share on their social networks, which generates them revenue from the audiences they have spent time and energy to establish.
To our content providers—advertisers—we provide a self-serve marketing platform that serves their brand messages and images to social network users via a cost-flexible system. Utilizing this system helps them mobilize their fan and follower base to participate in the promotion of their brand.
To our charities, we provide a platform to raise funds via the funds earned from the participation of any campaign within Sharetize to be appropriated to the charity.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Faulkner: Our target publisher is 16-to-30 years old, both male and female respectively. Having said that, there are many very strong micro markets we are focusing on, like our beloved ‘Mummy’ bloggers, and cause leaders. Our targets for advertisers are those who are looking to mobilize their fan base and reengage them utilizing our system. And charities looking to add more to their money raising efforts.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Faulkner: There have been a few companies since the beginning days of our development that we have seen make some grave mistakes, which we have learned from. We won’t mention those. One of our competitors is Adly.
SUB: What differentiates Sharetize from the competition?
Faulkner: We will always have competition, which is healthy and will keep us sharp. We will continue to utilize our innate understanding of basic human nature and what motivates us. From a technical point of view, our system is agnostic and is not solely reliant on APIs to operate. We have features to help mobilize fan and follow bases. Our system provides the advertiser with twenty different voice options to input into their campaigns for deeper publisher engagement and more authentic posts. Also with respect to Adly, they focus on high influencers with large audiences. We are focused on the masses with and their micro audiences.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Faulkner: The kernel of the idea was established in June of 2011, but the corporation was legally formed in October of 2011. The first steps we took were to try and break the idea, then identify its inherent problems and establish the systems we would need to build to eliminate them.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Sharetize? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Faulkner: There was a big ‘aha’ moment. After watching TV shows on Netflix on a Sunday for five hours, then watching consumers not paying attention to transit ads and free handout newspapers and only finding something to do on their mobile devices waiting for the subway, we realized that the mega media distribution channels of the past eight decades are losing power to the micro channels. These micro channels are owned by you and me via audiences in our social networks. We are the content curators of our own channels. And we need and want ad supply. And there will need to be a platform to provide it for us. We knew that we were really early with this concept, but as soon as the everyday person realizes their voice has replaced the commercial of latter day, they will expect to earn something for it.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Faulkner: It was a blended name of a number of words, Sharing, Monetizing, and Advertising. It was not a long drawn out process, I simply came up with it when I was trying to go to sleep with those words in my head.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Faulkner: Clearly it has been by far people. Not the lack of, but the different dynamics that you have to continuously deal with.
SUB: You just launched to the public. Why was this a particularly good time to launch?
Faulkner: We were actually fully ready in the first week of December, but the Holiday season is, in our opinion, a much too noisy time to get any mindshare, so the second week of January it was.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Faulkner: The company takes a portion of the earned revenue from each publisher transaction.
SUB: What are your goals for Sharetize over the next year or so?
Faulkner: Continue to innovate, gain respect from our peers, and grow our user base, naturally. From an aspirational point of view, we really want to be the catalyst for this paradigm shift of advertising to give the power of the voice back to the people who love and support their brands.
Sharetize – www.sharetize.com