Interview: Arnie Gullov-Singh, CEO of Ad.ly

Value Prop Twitter Style: Ad.ly helps brands start conversations with target audiences on Twitter. Our celebrity influencers drive awareness and inspire engagement.

Ad.ly Quote

You can watch the video below or on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLwHvslMzac

What follows is a summary which paraphrases Arnie’s responses. For exact quotes, watch the videos.

6)  Arnie, why does the world need Ad.ly? 

“In social media, the underlying artifact of the ecosystem is that consumers are following people. So who are the people who can help you reach the consumers you want to reach?

It became clear that the people with scale are famous people, so we set about building a network of influential people so when a marketer says, ‘I am looking to reach moms on Twitter’, we can match them with a couple of dozen celebrities and say ‘All of these women reach moms on Twitter.’”

5) Twitter’s recent $40M acquisition of TweetDeck is an interesting development. What do you think the social media ecosystem will look like in three years and what role will a fully matured Ad.ly play?

“When a platform evolves, at some point the company that built the platform starts to slow down. In order to tick all the boxes on the roadmap, they have to start partnering or they have to start acquiring. TweetDeck is a very natural acquisition, it certainly brings talent that knows how to build Twitter applications.

I have been monetizing social media for six years. It became pretty obvious that you can’t monetize social media with traditional ad products. Wherever the ecosystem goes, it is going to be embracing new ad formats and new ways of monetization that are fundamentally in tune with the underlying artifact that consumers are following people. You will see more and more integration plays were the marketing message and the content are integrated. These lines are blurring between editorial and commerce and the companies that are successful in three years are the ones that recognized that early and built a great consumer experience.”

4) As with any marketing channel, Ad.ly’s value prop is ideal for some offerings and suboptimal for others.

“It definitely works when you consider the intent of the consumer. The intent of the consumer on Twitter is to discover things that are new. As much as a consumer will go to a search engine like Google to find out more information about things they have already heard about, they are going to Twitter, and to a lesser extent Facebook, to discover what’s new and exciting today. ”

Arnie Gullov-Singh, CEO of Ad.ly3) As I noted in Freemium, I have always been frustrated by people who love free Internet services, but hate ads and subscription fees. What is your response to people who would storm Washington DC if Twitter and other social media platforms were subscription based, yet they are also quick to grab their pitchforks and scream, “I don’t want to see promotions in my Twitter stream”?

“One of the things we did a few months ago is to extend our analytics platform to really understand who is on Twitter and who is following the people in our network. If you follow the tech blogs, that’s a very vocal community, but it is a tiny community.
The celebrities in our network generally have over a million followers and those followers are consumers who look at that celebrity as a taste maker. They look at them to introduce them to new trends. That is a much, much, much bigger community.


The great thing about Twitter is you can make it your own. We can have our little country club of people in the tech community and we can have our voice and be heard. So can the fans of celebrities. They can follow them and interact with them the same way you and I are doing here.”

2) How much reach must a celebrity have (i.e., Twitter followers, Facebook, friends, etc.) for them to qualify as an Ad.ly partner? Have you had to turn away any high-profile celebs whose online presence just wasn’t large enough?

“We plan our campaigns across a network of celebrities. It is rare that one (celebrity) has enough scale to meet the goals of the marketer. However, when you combine three, four, five, you start to get enough scale that a buyer or agency says, ‘There’s enough scale there to reach my audience on Twitter’. There are slightly over a hundred people in our network with over a million followers each. It is rare for us to work with anyone with fewer than a hundred thousand followers.”

1) What is your primary goal in the next six months – bring on more Advertisers, top employees, celebrities, agency partners? – all of the above?

“What we have seen over the past year, running 25,000 endorsements, we want to get more into the post-click experience. We see a lot of brands just sending people to a website without a lot of measurement. If you can show ROI, you are top of mind. If you can’t show ROI, you are competing on sales and service. I would much rather compete on ROI than anything else.

We are expanding our platform into the post-click experience. In the next couple of months, we’ll be announcing some surprising changes, (which are) a natural extension of what we have learned over the last year.”

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