Q&A: TrafficStars’ Geoffrey Bonnechère
In February, on leap day, XBIZ.com reported that TrafficStars had inked a huge deal with xHamster.com, the second-biggest adult tube site in the world, for the exclusivity of its mobile and web ad spots.
Most in the newsroom saw the deal as a monumental one — a deal that could catapult a new company into the stars.
And apparently that’s the way TrafficStar CEO Geoffrey Bonnechère felt, as well.
Bonnechère, in this exclusive XBIZ World, called the partnership a “game changer” that has helped grow the company to where it stands a day.
XBIZ World recently posed a number of questions to Bonnechère to learn more about how he started the company and how he views the traffic market.
XBIZ: TrafficStars is a young company; just about a year old. What gave you the inspiration to start up an ad network?
Bonnechère: I’ve been working in the online advertising industry for nine years. I’ve grown businesses from scratch and have made them successful, but I felt like it was high time to build something on my own. I also had the chance to meet the right guys at the right moment. It’s a combination of many factors that make the birth of TrafficStars possible. It was not an easy decision, mostly because of the tough competition out there.
But I’m using the drawback of starting a company late as an advantage: I can avoid mistakes done by others in the past and use the most modern technologies to provide better services. Based on the buzz we created and the business we’ve accomplished so far, I think it was the best decision I could make.
XBIZ: What sets TrafficStars apart from other networks?
Bonnechère: We see new traffic networks emerging almost every month. It has become a very competitive market over the past few years and to stand apart from the crowd, we decided to focus on four major points — exclusive traffic partnerships, high-quality traffic, powerful technology and security. We’re investing a lot into our proprietary self-serve bidding system and into threat management. We provide very efficient targeting features such as devices, carriers, IP ranges or retargeting on our user-friendly platform. We’re currently working on the v2.0 of our user interface which will bring very cool features by the end of this year.
Security is a major focus for us. Tube site owners are very sensitive to the user experience and malvertising destroys their business. That’s why our priority is to work with trustworthy advertisers and serve the best ads possible. We work 24/7 on improving our capacities to flag and contain potential threats as fast as we can.
XBIZ: In February, TrafficStars signed an exclusive deal with the second-biggest tube site in the world, xHamster.com, for all mobile and web slots. How important is exclusivity to your game plan?
Bonnechère: This exclusivity for both xHamster mobile and web traffic was a game changer for TrafficStars. We were promoted directly into the big league of the very best traffic providers in the industry. This partnership brings a lot of business and definitely helps us to grow faster than most traffic networks and we actually had to learn how to run before walking. We grew from 70 million impressions in March 2015 to nearly 1 billion in May 2016, and everyone with a small technical background will understand how difficult it is to keep up with such growth. I’m really proud of all the people who made it possible.
XBIZ: Tell us about the convergence of adult and mainstream in the traffic space. Do you see the line blurring even more in the future?
Bonnechère: Such convergence is limited to certain type of services or products like dating, gaming, diet and gambling. Most mainstream brands are still afraid to be associated with adult-related content. Many taboos remain for the moment but good signs appeared. For instance, we were approached recently by a very famous Italian clothing company. We have great traffic and hopefully we will see some changes in the future. From a pure traffic perspective, we are actually getting more and more business from mainstream affiliate conferences. This is also a great sign and an amazing growth potential for companies like us.
XBIZ: How would you say the adult traffic landscape has evolved over the past three years?
Bonnechère: We’ve seen a tremendous traffic switch — mobile overpassed desktop for good. Demand for mobile traffic has never been so important especially for countries where carrier billing is available. Program owners understood that their business cannot rely solely on their pool of affiliates but also on targeted traffic buys. Most companies have built their own media buying teams.
Traffic was king but data took over the crown. Over the past three years we’ve seen huge improvements in targeting. Everyone is looking into deeper targeting options, data gathering and analysis. Networks provide much stronger targeting options and retargeting is now the now the hottest tool on the market. Nowadays we can display the right ad to the right person at the right time of the day.
XBIZ: What can you tell us about emerging market trends?
Bonnechère: We’re very concerned about adblock. The internet is based on free access to information or content and advertising is part of this ecosystem. By blocking ads, these companies are threatening the core principles of the internet. This goes without mentioning their white-listing process for publishers, which is close to extortion. As a result, bypassing technologies have now become an emerging market of their own.
On the other hand, it’s good to see virtual reality evolving. I think that in the near future with smaller devices and HD content, VR will bring a breath of fresh air to the industry.
XBIZ: What are your short-term and long-term goals for TrafficStars?
Bonnechère: We’ve been growing so quickly over the past 13 months that our first objective is to maintain the same pace in the near future. We are continuing developing our proprietary technology, and we are optimizing every single component of it. At the same time, we’re actively hiring new employees to keep up with our business needs. Later on we will start looking into new verticals such as entertainment and gaming. I’m actually very lucky to work with very smart and motivated people. We have great resources, so the sky is the limit.
XBIZ: When not thinking about business, what do you like to do?
Bonnechère: My wife and I are expecting a little boy soon — our first. We’re very excited about it, and we’re getting everything prepared for his arrival. I’m also a mountain bike fanatic, and I love training in the hills behind our house near Barcelona as often as I can. I also recently discovered stand-up paddle boarding. Sports helps me to isolate, relax and get more focused back in the office.