Now in its ninth year, Barcelona-based ExoClick has grown to become the fourth-largest ad network in the world, positioning it just behind Google Ads, Amazon Associates and Ad Roll in terms of managed volume.
The company is Spain’s biggest ad tech start-up, ranked as the 50th-fastest growing tech firm in Europe, the Middle East and Africa as part of Deloitte’s Fast 500 — and is the only Spanish-registered company to be featured in this listing.
ExoClick has embraced the world of Big Data by gathering vast amounts of user information that enables clients to better understand and profit from their traffic through analytical tools that reveal visitors’ behavioral patterns.
It is also widely recognized as a top-tier European company, being named one of Spain’s “National Champions” in the prestigious European Business Awards, which the company is in the finals for later this year.
ExoClick has a global network of 65,500 publishers whose audiences can be reached through an advanced proprietary ad platform featuring robust targeting filters that segment ad campaigns by browsers, countries, devices, hours of the day, languages, mobile carriers, niches, operating system, specific publisher’s sites, and more, with full transparency and real-time statistics.
Founded by Benjamin Fonzé, aka Benja, in 2006, and now run together with his brother Adrien, ExoClick continues to dominate in an area where giants such as Facebook or Google can’t compete: the adult industry.
In January, the company reached another milestone announcing that it now serves 5 billion daily ad impressions and has just doubled its office space in one of Barcelona’s most iconic buildings, the Mapfre Tower.
Benja credits his team for the company’s exponential growth — along with platform and industry sector innovation, reinvestment in proprietary technology, strategic business decisions and partnerships with a number of high-profile properties that provide new opportunities for advertisers and increased revenue for publishers.
ExoClick has certainly come a long way, as Benja remembers, “The ad network industry was very small in 2005, from 2006 it really started to open up, and by then we had already begun working with casinos and other gambling sites.”
“Adult studios and video sites couldn’t work with Google and other ad networks because of ethics,” he says. “We also saw that these sites, despite having a huge amount of traffic, worked in a very old fashioned way, with static ads, very little transparency and no analytics services. I saw this as a big opportunity.”
As a result, Benja developed a proprietary ad-serving technology called EXADS that allowed advertisers and publishers to trade online advertising space, and ExoClick was born.
Benja says that the core mission of ExoClick has always been to give clients full transparency while maximizing their ROI and earnings. Clients have full access to all of their traffic and conversion data so that they can track their campaigns and monitor their ad zones every step of the way. Advertisers have the targeting and retargeting tools they need to fully optimise their ad spend. Publishers can test their ad zones with more than 20 different ad formats in order to optimize their earnings.
“2015 was a great year for ExoClick, in fact it has been our best year ever, with more than 23 percent growth compared to 2014,” Benja told XBIZ. “A big contribution to this success is down to the introduction of several significant new tools and platform upgrades that include global mobile carrier targeting, keyword and IP range targeting, fully flexible frequency capping allowing unlimited options for retargeting users, and a new platform API.”
On the publisher side, three new ad formats were introduced: sticky banner, notification bar and an Android SDK for in-app advertising. The company’s admin panel now has more robust security with two factor authentication. Clients also got an update to ExoClick’s admin panel Android app, which gives them the same user experience as their desktops.
With all these platform innovations, it’s no surprise that Benja was presented with honors at the 2015 XBIZ Exec Awards for “Tech Leadership of the Year” and ExoClick garnered a win at the 2015 XBIZ Awards for “European Traffic Services Company of the Year.”
Benja sees the API economy as a future growth opportunity, and since the company stores all of its data in the cloud, it makes sense that they can maximise the use of this data in order to grow their own business and the businesses of their partners.
The API allows clients secure access to their data in order to create bespoke applications to automate processes on the ExoClick platform.
“Our API is a very exciting opportunity for us, our clients and our partners because it allows us to be a hybrid self service/programmatic ad network, creating business opportunities for anyone developing software applications based around the ExoClick ecosystem,” Benja says. “Furthermore, the API’s interface is super friendly and fast to use: simply set the parameters and press the ‘Try It Out’ button to automatically generate code.”
Some automation examples include setting custom bidding limits, programmatically modifying specific targeting options for improved ROI, automatically targeting different devices and mobile carriers, creating custom dashboards that provide in-depth metrics, pausing and resuming campaigns automatically based on real-time data analysis. The options are large and varied, and ExoClick’s API gives you the real-time data categories to build sophisticated automation tools.
“To demonstrate how our API can work with third party API’s, we recently created downloadable server to server conversion tracking manuals, showing how to integrate ExoClick’s API with some popular third-party APIs including Adsbridge, Cake, HasOffers, Kochava and Voluum,” Benja explains. “The manuals can be found on our Developers page at www.exoclick.com.”
According to ExoClick’s global sales director, Richard Cottrell, an ad network succeeds because of the quality of its traffic.
“We don’t work with blind traffic, we know where all of our traffic comes from and our platform provides further traffic fine tuning with our deep targeting options,” Cottrell explains. “It is important to note that we don’t segment our traffic for premium and performance based campaigns; everyone has access to the same traffic ensuring everyone benefits from the same opportunities.
“Being a self service platform we can add much more value by allowing people to control their RTB spend with our segmentation tools. Additionally, our SmartCPM option bids for clients at the best price possible; they just set the maximum CPM bid they are prepared to pay and our system automatically bids for them 24/7,” Cottrell added.
“Our system determines the lowest price to get the best position in the rotation of the campaigns up until their maximum bid price. Used wisely, our SmartCPM is a great tool since it saves time and guarantees the best visibility at the most affordable price.”
On the publisher side ExoClick offers exclusive spots from many of the industry’s biggest publishing sites, giving better impressions. The ExoClick publishing team also works with smaller publishers to build up their traffic and so in turn increase the monetization of their ad offerings.
“Our fill rates are close to 100 percent across all our verticals because any unsold premium ad spots are used for our performance campaigns,” Cottrell told XBIZ.
Adult is ExoClick’s core business, but over the last 18 months, its head of business development, Peter Rabenseifner, and his team have been significantly growing the mainstream side of ExoClick’s network.
“Last year Q2 to Q3, our mainstream revenues increased by 45 percent, and Q4 saw an increase of a further 15 percent growth,” Rabenseifner told XBIZ. “Despite the fact we were initially focusing on desktop we are now seeing exponential growth in our mainstream mobile traffic.”
“Our platform allows advertisers to segment traffic so that they can tap into mainstream and adult niches, which gives our traffic targeting more value than other traffic sources in the market,” Rabenseifner explains. “Over the last two years we have seen a demand for mainstream advertisers looking for adult traffic and vice versa.”
ExoClick’s retargeting features have been proven to deliver much higher performance than normal campaigns, and advertisers can carry out retargeting campaigns to negatively or positively target users that initially showed interest in their offers through the network and more.
“Advertisers can also use our network to retarget users that initially visited sites through other sources such as Google search, email or other ad networks,” Cottrell told XBIZ. “Also, many advertisers think that it is difficult to retarget users on mobile, but our feature has been successfully tested on all of the main mobile devices (Android and iOS) and all the major browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Xiaomi, etc.) We are seeing that advertisers are getting great results by placing our pixel and launching retargeting campaigns at mobile users.”
According to Cottrell, in the last 12 months ExoClick has seen a 15 percent increase in the mobile side of its business with it now accounting for 65 percent of total global revenues because the company has stayed on top of the shift to mobile.
ExoClick provides mobile solutions for clients including enhancing the ability of advertisers to target mobile by upgrading its global mobile carrier targeting system and providing direct realtime access to carrier IP addresses in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Australasia, covering more than 300 mobile carriers and their carrier billing, along with several specific mobile ad formats, plus the Android in-app SDK and device targeting.
More platform innovations targeting mobile are coming up in 2016, with ExoClick expecting to see even more opportunities in the mobile space.
Beyond the growth of its mobile initiatives, ExoClick has embraced the world of Big Data by gathering vast amounts of user information that enables clients to better understand and profit from their traffic through analytical tools that reveal visitors’ behavioral patterns. This is especially helpful for retargeting and for optimizing campaigns, while leading to a greater standard of transparency.
“Data defines your audience and makes media more valuable,” Cottrell explains. “Much of the discussion around data has been that marketers use it for targeting and personalization, but it can also be used to verify that there’s a real audience worth targeting in the first place. Publishers are using data to verify their audiences, which means they can prove to marketers the value they bring to the table.”
24/7 Customer Service
ExoClick offers clients 24/7 customer service. January saw the company launch its live chat support option that allows ExoClick clients to interact with its customer service team via an instant messaging interface within the admin panel.
However, the customer service role is broader than being just a help desk; with the team constantly working on compliance and security to protect publishers and advertisers from fraudulent practices.
What is it like to work at ExoClick
There are more than 24 different nationalities working at ExoClick, each with expert localized market knowledge allowing clients access to both local and global advice.
The company also promotes a positive work culture, in fact in 2015, ExoClick was named as No. 11 in the Top 20 Best Workplaces in Spain, attracting and retaining staff members through employee satisfaction, opportunities for advancement and encouraging staff to communicate new ideas with management.
“This is a big focus for us,” says ExoClick’s COO Adrien Fonzé. “We are convinced that keeping our team happy will lead to positive results.”
“We invested in a modern office situated in a famous tower of the city, giving a stunning view of the beach every day. Some of the benefits are flexitime, free language classes, fresh organic fruit, coffee, health insurance, gym and restaurant discounts,” Fonzé added. “More than anything else, we always try to remain accessible to all team members so that communication flows. Innovation comes from everywhere inside ExoClick.”
The Future of ExoClick
ExoClick is not just sitting on its past accomplishments, but it is growing and evolving with the future and its innovations in digital advertising are helping shape the future of ad technologies, networks and platforms.
ExoClick has generated many substantial achievements for a privately held company, a solid testament to the overall dedication and professionalism of its management and staff members. From teamwork to technology, ExoClick’s innovation is driven by transparency and developing ways for advertisers and publishers to profit — a legacy it is poised to continue through 2016 and beyond.