28 June 2010

MEF Executive Questionnaire #15: Dr Lai, Buzzcity

MEF continues to seek new ways to profile its members and promote the thought-leadership of the senior executives within these companies. We are pleased to launch the MEF Executive Questionnaire to reveal the real people behind the industry in an informal and entertaining manner.

This will be a regular feature of the MEF blog, so make sure you subscribe via email or RSS. If you are a senior executive from one of our member companies and would like to be featured then please contact MEF Marketing Director, Stephen Jenkins.

The fifteenth in the series is from Dr Lai, CEO of Buzzcity.

1. Please describe briefly your main company activities and your role within that organisation
BuzzCity is a mobile media company offering brand owners and agencies access to a global advertising network on the mobile internet. The network is made up of publishers from across the world and BuzzCity’s own mobile media properties. As a leading international player, BuzzCity has developed in-depth knowledge of the mobile consumer and provides marketers with clear opportunities to reach this audience via its advertising and publisher programmes.

2. Without necessarily revealing any confidential information, please outline the principal business models your company uses
We target the “Unwired” which consists of two distinct audiences: the newly connected emerging middle class in developing markets and the blue collar sector in developed regions. These "unwired" consumers are accessing the mobile Internet on their phones due to widespread and affordable wireless access.

We also adopt the “aggregate-and-syndicate” strategy to create more premium mobile media properties. These properties allow us to offer more exciting options (sponsorships, cost-per-acquisition) to advertisers besides the standard cost-per-click model of ad networks, as well as helping us to gain access to a larger audience from the publishers.

3. What has been your company’s greatest achievement to-date?
Founded in 1999, we survived the dotcom crash and built a dominant global mobile advertising network. Over the years, the company has built a culture of strategic thinking, dedicated work, solid technology and customer service, attracting the right talents in the team.

4. What is your company currently working on that is going to move the industry forward?
We are educating the industry at large on the distinct audience segments on the mobile Internet and advertising. The Tier-1 consumers use computer and internet heavily in their professional work and life, and treat mobile as a supplementary connecting device to Internet. They use phones like iPhone and BlackBerries. The Tier-2 consumers are the “Unwired”. There are distinct differences on the products that will appeal to these two groups.

We are also pushing for an industry-wide and neutral verification of traffic metrics from advertising networks and publishers. This is essential to create an opened and trusted environment for mobile entertainment and advertising to thrive.

5. What is exciting you most in 2010 (either personally or professionally)?
BuzzCity has grown significantly from 45 staff to more than 70 staff, with offices in Singapore (HQ), Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, South Africa, France and the USA. I am most excited to gather such a talented and dedicated team of people who will help us to push the envelope in mobile advertising.

6. What is the most important piece of technology in your life?
It has to be the mobile phone. It affects my life personally, and we have built a business on it.

7. What mobile device(s) do you use?
I have been using this iPhone 3G for 2 years. I think I will upgrade to the iPhone 4 soon ...

8. What’s your favourite application?
I have 2 free applications on the London Tube and Paris RATP. They are great to tell me which line to take and change, without having to fiddle with small maps.

9.What’s your ringtone?
The default Strum ringtone on iPhone.

10. Which mobile industry blogs do you regularly read and why?
Techcrunch and Venturebeat. They give good updates on the relevant industry.

11. What is the biggest mobile content issue that is likely to affect the industry within the next 12 months?
As the questionable subscription practices are regulated out in most markets, mobile entertainment company must innovate to find the products that are entertaining and value-for-money. These companies must create the capabilities to introduce new products with very short life-cycle, i.e. 1-3 months.

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