Looking Beyond Location Ad Tech, Factual Brings In PubMatic’s Jonas As First Revenue Head

While much of Factual’s growth in the past two years have come from alliances with programmatic platforms that use its geo-data to power real-time ad targeting, greater demand for place-based intelligence is coming from other industries.

In addition, the Los Angeles-based company, fresh from a $35 million funding round, is building out a presence in other countries as well. To meet those increasing demands, Factual has hired Rob Jonas as its first SVP of Revenue.

Jonas was most recently chief revenue officer at programmatic platform PubMatic. As he takes on the new role, he’ll be charting a course for the company’s primary analytics products, Factual’s Global Places and Geopulse. He’ll also be charged with expanding those tools use cases both for and beyond the list of partners the company has racked up: Apple Maps, Facebook’s Place pages, Microsoft’s Bing, plus thousands of smaller developers and mobile apps; mobile advertising companies such as DoubleClick by Google, InMobi, Turn, The Trade Desk, Adelphic, AppNexus, Sizmek, and dozens of others; and companies in payments including two of the four major networks, large card-issuing banks, and payment processors.

“Our existing business development and partner services teams have done an outstanding job building and deepening relationships with a large number of customers across mobile advertising, mobile apps/platforms, and traditional Fortune 500 companies, but now we’re ready for the next level and I believe Rob is the guy to get us there,” said Factual CEO/founder Gil Elbaz. “Beyond his depth of experience with digital advertising, what impressed me most about Rob is his enthusiasm for data and the untold ways we might serve customers — and ultimately empower innovation — with accessible, actionable, factual data.”

GeoMarketing: How did you decide to take on this post at Factual?

Rob Jonas: I actually met with Gil Elbaz late last year, and as I was thinking about what to do next after PubMatic. Like most people who spend time with the company, I very quickly got captivated by the size and the scale of the challenge that Factual is tackling.

A lot of what we talk about is around location, and location products we built, and most recently, how they tie into advertising and mobile advertising. Everything else that goes on behind the scenes that gets us to that point involves resolving very, very large and very, very complex problems. My story is similar to many others in that I was intrigued and captivated by the scale of the challenge and the phenomenal success that the company’s had in tackling that over the last few years.

What specifically impressed you about Factual’s capabilities, particularly as it expands beyond ad tech to support content/media companies?

When I went several layers deeper in terms of the assets that have been assembled on the technology side, on the team that’s been put together, the potential for the business is very large. That’s what caught my attention.

At its core, Factual is not in the media sales business; it’s a technology company. Many media companies are not really technology companies. Our ability to apply that technology on behalf of media companies, and ad tech companies, and many, many other types of organizations is incredibly high. I don’t see any reason to deviate from that plan and that mission. There is huge value creation from being a technology partner, or a technology enabler, for the tens, if not hundreds, of companies who are focused on the media space specifically. I don’t think anybody needs another media business. I think what a lot of these companies need is a deep technology partner with phenomenal product, phenomenal technology, and great data. Factual is in that business.

As Factual both doubles down on its work with ad tech — such as its expanded relationship with InMobi and Rubicon Project this past week — how do you see the balance between that and pursuing other areas going forward?

Location-aware content delivery is incredibly powerful across the board for just about any business. The advertising space is incredibly competitive, but the media and content space is incredibly competitive as well.

If you’re a traditional digital media provider, if you’re not a new high-growth media business, like a Snapchat or a Buzzfeed, if you’ve got a legacy media business, you’re trying to work out ways you can make your content more relevant and acceptable. Location’s a key part of that. That’s just one use case.

Location and programmatic are both focused on the right message to the right person at the right place and the right time. Why doesn’t that model extend to content? I think Geopulse has got a role to play in that.

Another one is retail. Retail is, obviously, seeing a huge shift in terms of how transactions are conducted towards mobile devices, and the blurring intersection between transactions being completed on a mobile device, being completed in store. Obviously mobile is the key element there.

Geopulse has a very role to play in that business as well. That’s just two categories. You can then look at navigation. You can look at financial services. Every major segment is being massively disrupted by mobile technology, and location’s at the absolute center of that. I think we’re at this amazing intersection of all of these massive trends happening at the moment, and Geopulse is key to that.