Mistral Founder Sheds Light on Dark Side of Search
Mistral’s traffic purveyors practice on the dark side of search.
In fact, according to founder and CEO Avi Slavin, Mistral is a “discrete society,” one whose partnerships are by “invitation only.”
And after 18 months, Mistral is finding its rules of engagement to be what successfully sets itself apart from its numerous competitors. In that short time, Mistral has grown to become the largest keyword marketplace that serves the “taboo” verticals.
Slavin recently sat down to discuss how Mistral got its start and what’s ahead for the company, as well as the future of adult traffic.
XBIZ: How did Mistral come about?
Slavin: In June, 2014, Google pulled out of the adult search traffic space. It is estimated that Google was receiving $10 million-plus in revenue per day from their “Ad Words” platform generated by adult-related keywords. This ended up costing advertisers millions in lost revenues that was generated by Google’s traffic. That’s when the light bulb went off.
A massive window of opportunity was dangling in front us for the taking. Our team has more than 30 years of combined experience servicing mainstream Fortune 1000 brands and agencies in the search space. Having made them millions, we are now applying this muscle to the adult vertical for what will be ground-breaking revenue for our clients.
Our vision? To become the Google Adwords replacement for advertisers in this space. In a mere 18 months of operations, Mistral has grown to become the largest keyword marketplace that serves the “taboo” verticals. And we only scratched the surface.
XBIZ: Your company places a strong emphasis on premium search traffic with cream-of-the-crop partners, who are selected by “invitation only.” What’s the secret sauce that helps your clients produce higher profits?
Slavin: Contrary to popular belief, the worldwide search market is not comprised of just Google, Yahoo and Bing. There are thousands of other sources of search traffic that provide the quality and value to any search marketer. Mistral’s “secret sauce” is our portfolio of exclusive publishers with search traffic that we have hand selected from past experience. Sorry, not going to share names!
XBIZ: Tell me about the technology and service support you offer your clients?
Slavin: In anticipation of our client’s needs, Mistral’s platform provides a cutting-edge bid engine, allowing digital marketers the ability to connect with our exclusive search traffic partners. Mistral harnesses technology that increases value to any search marketer’s businesses. Our fully managed solution coupled with an exceptional support staff make set up painless and quick. With expansive targeting, reporting and optimization tools, as well as industry leading fraud detection and filtering technologies, we provide clients the instruments needed to maximize their distribution and revenue potential.
XBIZ: How would you say the adult traffic landscape has evolved over the past three years?
Slavin: I actually would NOT say that the adult traffic landscape has evolved over the past three years. There used to be a time when the adult industry was considered the pioneers of digital media. The past few years … not so much. With the exception of only a few companies, the evolution of traffic is stale. This industry needs to be reinvigorated once again. It is my opinion that the next two years will be very crucial for the industry as a whole and for those that want to remain or become serious players.
XBIZ: What’s the future of adult traffic?
Slavin: It still amazes me just how little of mainstream technology is prevalent in the adult world. Having come from the mainstream, and still very much active in the space, I see huge opportunities on the traffic side — content discovery, retargeting, search, video, Big Data plays. The days of brokered display and POP networks are coming to an end. Only the innovative will survive. Only those who add serious value to our ecosystem will emerge as leaders.
XBIZ: Tell me about the convergence of adult and mainstream in the traffic space. Do you see the line blurring even more in the future?
Slavin: I don’t see the convergence of adult and mainstream in the traffic space just yet. Diesel running a campaign on PornHub was an extremely rare occurrence despite how positive their case study might have been. I have no doubt that adult traffic will perform extremely well for mainstream. The challenge, however, is overcoming the stigma of entering the adult space all together. It is my opinion that with the proper education and insight, you might see more brands like Diesel testing out the waters. Most people watch porn. That is a fact. Therefore, when you can compile the demographic profiles, audience matching and the necessary data to prove this theory, the two industries might become allies after all.
XBIZ: Does Mistral have any new developments or services coming out this year?
Slavin: Mistral’s latest innovation harnesses the power of keyword search and POP traffic. We now offer marketers a brand new channel of highly targeted POP traffic across all devices, carriers and GEOs based on user intent. This proprietary technology possesses a provisional patent and went live in the end of June with outstanding feedback. Our goal? To redefine the digital landscape at the intersection of search and POP. We call the new product “POPSICAL.”
XBIZ: What adult companies and/or who inspires you in the industry?
Slavin: Tough question. There are a lot of smart people and excellent companies in the industry, but here are a few who come to mind who add some incredible value — MindGeek, Affil4you, BrokerBabe, TrafficPartner and CrakMedia.
XBIZ: What’s a typical work day like?
Slavin: Los Angeles is perhaps the worst time zone to do business with the rest of the world. I am typically up at 4-5 a.m. checking emails/skype and dealing with my European clients. I then try to hit up the gym and be in our office by 7:30 a.m. After a full work day, I usually leave around 6 p.m., go home, have dinner, relax and unwind. This is important and balance is crucial!
XBIZ: When not thinking about the biz, what do you like to do?
Slavin: When not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I love traveling to new places. I enjoy the outdoors. You can often find me on the hiking trails around the West Coast. I love being on the water and to barbecue. But most importantly, I enjoy spending time with my fiancé. She is my rock, my support system and the most understanding person I know. It takes a special person to put up with my lifestyle. I am lucky man.