Millennial Media's Mollie Spilman on mobile's astonishing growth

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Millennial Media provides a mobile advertising platform that competes with Apple Inc.'s iAd and Google Inc.'s AdMob. Mollie Spilman joined Millennial Media nine months ago as exec VP-global sales and marketing, a new position at the company. She came from Yahoo, where she served as CMO for three months before the company's management shakeup last summer. Last month, BtoB sibling publication Advertising Age named Spilman to its list of 25 “Women to Watch” in 2013. BtoB: How is your job different at a mobile advertising company compared with marketing the Yahoo portal experience? Mollie Spilman: While there's plenty that's new, there's a little feeling of having seen this movie before. I was one of the first people in online advertising, and now people are flocking to mobile for content and sharing. But in my nine months here things are moving faster than I've ever seen. Just six months ago publishers were telling us that 20% of their traffic was coming from mobile. Today, it's 50-50. Advertisers are saying that to get reach they have to be in mobile. For agencies and advertisers, the heat is on to figure out mobile in the next couple of months and not spend a few years on it as they did with the Internet. BtoB: Explain a little how Millennial markets its products and services? Spilman: We have a marketing and sales team devoted to the developer side, and we also focus on agencies. For developers we just launched a new software development kit with more capabilities, and we're working with about 50,000 app developers and publishers. There are so many developer conferences out there, so we decided to do “minisummits” at those conferences to educate developers on how to develop apps and track lifetime value. On the agency side, we do an agency road show, going to every market to share our insights about mobile data, measurement solutions and best practices—or to just take questions. In Atlanta, for example, we invited our clients, such as Coca-Cola Co., Home Depot and PepsiCo Inc., along with their agencies. BtoB: Do you have specific campaigns to go along with these initiatives? Spilman: We don't have an ad campaign per se. Rather, it's a continuing educational program on how mobile is the closest you can get to your customer. We want to educate the world on the power of mobile advertising first. Only after that would we talk about Millennial Media solutions. BtoB: Millennial recently announced a number of new premium video ad formats, including Sync, Toggle and Ticker. Tell us about these initiatives? Spilman: We created these ad units with lots of interactions. For example, you can Sync different animations with specific moments of a video to highlight key messages. The Toggle unit allows toggling between three videos; a viewer may get halfway through one video ad but then want to see what's next, and that drives additional viewing with multiple messaging. The Ticker ad unit allows marketers to display dynamically updated information such as sports scores, movie times or Twitter feeds directly into their video ad. And we have some tablet-specific units, because we've done a lot of research on how smartphones differ from tablets. BtoB: Your title includes oversight of the sales function. How does that work? Spilman: Marketing has the same revenue goals as sales. For example, the person who runs advertiser marketing has a dotted line to the person who runs North American sales. Her goal is the same revenue figure as the salesperson has. If sales says it needs to get more business in Cleveland, for example, marketing needs to do more there to get agencies to better understand our solutions. BtoB: What does the future hold for mobile advertising? Spilman: It's not just hype; it's here. Other media won't go away, but I think that mobile will help make every other medium better. So we continue to evangelize that the medium is job No. 1, and to be part of the app economy in helping developers make money.
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