Who Will Steal the ‘Startup Spotlight’ at ad:tech NY?

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ADOTAS — Eight companies are set to present at this year’s Startup Spotlight at ad:tech New York, ready to wow the judges with their technologies that aim to disrupt the advertising ecosystem. We interviewed seven of the eight finalists — Buzztala, Sensegon Technologies, OneSpot, Shillster, Jana, Curalate, and Plink — to give a glimpse inside their companies and how they feel about being included in the competition. (The eighth finalist, Eventable, could not be reached for comment.)

Buzztala: Jay DeDapper, founder and CEO

Q: What are you hoping to take away from the Startup Spotlight participation?

A: The combination exposure to potential clients and investors AND the chance to pitch Tourneau and get their feedback is an awesome opportunity.

Q. What does your company do and why is it different?

Buzztala is “Vine for Business.” We give brands a way to benefit from the mobile visual communication revolution that’s being led by Vine, Keek and Instagram by putting our clients in complete control of the creation, moderation and distribution of content their customers create. No one else puts business in end-to-end control of this authentic, shareable mobile visual content.
How are venues like this beneficial to your company or the industry as a whole?

It’s hard for brands to really figure out which new technologies and which startups to try out and that’s why it can be hard for really innovative and effective tech startups to get in to see top brands. ad:Tech is a perfect way for both sides to talk in a productive environment.

Q: What is the future of advertising?

A: The anti-ad. Who do you trust more: the brand trying to sell you something or a friend or “regular” person like yourself? The best ads of the future won’t be ads but authentic testimonials and recommendations from other customers.


Sensegon Technologies: Omer Efrat, CEO

Q: What are you hoping to take away from the Startup Spotlight participation?

A: We hope to take the big prize! Seriously, We hope to get a close quaintness with our possible clients and to make a strong statement that Sensegon is here!

Q: What does your company do and why is it different?

A: We offer a patented psychosocial ad targeting platform. The platform, a first of its kind, helps online and mobile advertisers target consumers based on their unique personality differences rather than just through the analysis of geographic, demographic, or behavioral data.

Q: How are venues like this beneficial to your company or the industry as a whole?

A: At venues like these we get to socialize with our potential clients, see our competitors, get new ideas and learn from other companies how to be more efficient. As an industry I think these conferences give you the chance to reach out further than you normally could.  Since it get all sides of advertising  into one place, empowering you to meet new people and acquire new ways to monetize your business.

Q: What is the future of advertising?

A: Digital, Digital and Digital. No matter what magazine you’re subscribed to they all say the same- Digital is growing. At Sensegon we believe that more and more brands turn to the performance side of advertising since it it’s more profitable and defiantly more measureable.


OneSpotSteve Sachs, CEO

Q: What are you hoping to take away from the Startup Spotlight participation?

A: We’re hoping to show how the worlds of content marketing and programmatic advertising can be brought together to make a whole campaign impact greater than the sum of the parts.

Q: What does your company do and why is it different?

A: We offer a content advertising platform that converts content into ads and programmatically places those ads across thousands of sites. What sets OneSpot apart is the ability to target users at specific moments in their customer journey, our unique use of retargeting and machine learning to drive business results and our scale which offers access to more than 36 million impressions per second.

Q: How are venues like this beneficial to your company or the industry as a whole?

A: Venues like ad:tech are great for our company and the industry because they bring the whole ecosystem together — that enables brands, agencies, publishers and technology companies like ours to engage with the trade at a strategy and vision level as well as a technical and transactional level.

Q: What is the future of advertising?

A: The only thing certain about the future of advertising is continuous change and rapid evolution – companies that can adapt to changing consumer behavior, preferences and expectations — while delivering value to advertisers — are the ones who will win.


Shillster: Michael Tracy, founder and CEO

Q: What are you hoping to take away from the Startup Spotlight participation?

A: Inspiration via other entrepreneurs; great ideas via other entrepreneurs; great contacts, business leads, etc. potential investors; [and] brand exposure for our company.

Q: What does your company do and why is it different?

A: Shillster is a social marketing platform that enables businesses to create and distribute their marketing message via their customers. We are the only product that puts the customer at the center of the advertising. For example: Shillster attempts to solve two major problems in digital advertising:

  1. Customers trust brands much less than their family & friends.
  2. Most customers never want to be presented with an ad.

With these challenges, how can brands and establishments engage their consumers and acquire new customers? Shillster rewards customers for promoting a business or brand to their friends and family via photos and words on their social networks. The customer becomes the star in an ad on behalf of the business!

Q: How are venues like this beneficial to your company or the industry as a whole?

A: It gives smaller companies, like us, the ability to reach a large audience without requiring a large marketing/advertising spend/budget.

Q: What is the future of advertising?

A: #ParticaptionMarketing —- Brands no longer own their message. So might as well let the customers market for the brands. 92% of customers trust family & friends vs. less than 50% trust the brand.


Jana: Nathan Eagle, co-founder and CEO

Q: What are you hoping to take away from the Startup Spotlight participation?

A: Excellent opportunity for Jana to showcase its unique capability and reach in emerging markets. Hoping to convince the judges and people in attendance of the outstanding potential of emerging markets (in terms of payments, mobile payments, and beyond), as well as the enhanced engagement provided through mobile marketing/research.

Q: What does your company do and why is it different?

A: Jana helps brands engage with consumers in emerging markets. Through partnerships with 237 mobile operators, Jana can instantly reward 3.48 billion emerging market consumers in 70 local currencies with prepaid mobile airtime.

We are strictly emerging market focused, and thus are focused on helping brands reach their ‘next billion’ customers.

For any action taken by a consumer on our platform (taking a survey, buying a product, downloading an app, etc.), there is a corresponding mobile airtime reward. This allows for reciprocity in advertising: brands receive valuable consumer data and action from target audiences, and Jana helps redirect the $200 billion spent on traditional advertising back into consumer’s pockets.

Q: How are venues like this beneficial to your company or the industry as a whole?

A: Venues like this help provide a platform for startups like Jana to share the ways in which they are innovating/changing their current industry. They enable direct contact between major brands and exciting startups.

Q: What is the future of advertising?

A: The future of advertising is mobile in emerging markets. Of the nearly 7 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide, over 5 billion are from emerging markets. China alone has more smartphone users than there are people in the U.S. and India is not too far behind.

Emerging market consumers will be driving consumer spending for the next several decades, as brands begin to focus on these customers, mobile phones will be the most important channel to engage with an otherwise difficult-to-reach consumer base.


Curalate: Apu Gupta, co-founder and CEO

Q: What are you hoping to take away from the Startup Spotlight participation?

A: First we really want to develop an understanding for Tourneau’s goals, and put together a really comprehensive campaign built around our technology. We’re looking forward to meeting other folks from the Startup Spotlight series, and hopefully spark some conversation with the attendees checking out our booth at ad:tech.

Q: What does your company do and why is it different?

A: Curalate is the first company to apply image analytics to the social conversation. We help brands grow and measure engagement across visual platforms like Pinterest, Instagram Facebook and soon Tumblr. Additionally we’re the only company that can track both organic and brand images on social but we also ingest and monitor user generated images from Instagram.

Social monitoring tools are nothing new, but we’re the only tool that breaks down data on the image level across the web.

Q: How are venues like this beneficial to your company or the industry as a whole?

A: Whenever you can get huge group of like minded people together ideas tend to spread. ad.tech represents a huge opportunity for cutting edge marketers to share ideas. By giving young startups like ours a chance to show of our products, the Startup Spotlight Series creates for a really fun, forward thinking environment. We’re really excited to be showcased at ad.tech and to have a chance to present along with the other selected companies in the Startup Spotlight series.

Q: What is the future of advertising?

A: The future of advertising is scary. Increasingly consumers want to engage with brands in new ways. Today that means social engagement, but soon this is going to shift towards user generated content creation.

Advertisers need to prepare for a world where the creative team isn’t in charge of the message. The future of advertising is about framing the social conversation in a way that empowers your fans but is still on message for the brand. To do this brands are going to have to engage with their fans socially. We’re seeing that the social conversation is quickly shifting to a language of images.


Plink: Peter Vogel, co-founder and CEO

Q: What are you hoping to take away from the Startup Spotlight participation?

A: Not only is it an honor to be among the few startups selected, which is a nice validation in its own right, but we’re excited at the opportunity to garner invaluable feedback and learnings on how to provide a more valuable solution to the marketplace. A major component of the Plink program is its tie to a member’s credit card, thus, the opportunity to demonstrate Plink to a leading global credit card company and one of the most respected brands in the world, is a tremendous opportunity with strong possibilities to work with them in a rewards-based way.

Q: What does your company do and why is it different?

A: Plink is an online-to-offline rewards program that motivates members to make offline purchases. Plink members create an account at Plink.com or via the Plink mobile app, then link the credit or debit card of their choice, and begin earning rewards by purchasing offline at more than 70,000 restaurant and retailer locations nationwide, including Burger King, Gap, Outback Steakhouse, Regal Cinemas and Sears, to name a few. Plink rewards members with Plink Points which can be redeemed for gift cards from more than 25 leading brands.

Today, 80% of purchases are still made offline. Meanwhile, billions of consumers spend hours a day online. But if you’re an offline brand, how do you connect with them and drive purchases in your stores or restaurants? Connecting online-and-offline has been a tremendous challenge for marketers. Plink is changing that by acting as a bridge that engages online consumers, motivates them to make purchases offline, tracks those purchases and then rewards consumers for those purchases to generate loyalty and repeat purchases.

Q: How are venues like this beneficial to your company or the industry as a whole?

A: ad:tech’s Startup Spotlight creates an opportunity for companies like Plink to not only meet and present to global brand, such as MasterCard, but the venue enables one-of-a-kind feedback that will be invaluable to improve what we do. Matching-up innovation and entrepreneurship of startups, like Plink, with the global reach and experience of a MasterCard is a two way street to drive collaboration with the smallest and largest of companies as each has unique and different strengths.

Q: What is the future of advertising

A: I’m a big believer that the coming mobile wallet will be a massive opportunity for marketing, especially loyalty programs to become more closely integrated  and a more influential, every-day part of everyone’s shopping experience. As it becomes easier and easier to track what people are buying, all through one device, the smartphone, consumers are going to expect to get a higher level of rewards and appreciation for their shopping. I believe many brands will shift significant percentages of their marketing budgets away from mass media like TV to one-to-one, very customized, personalized rewards initiatives…. and consumers will start to demand this type of recognition and thanks for their purchases and loyalty. Loyalty is the new app.

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