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Need Subscribers? Pontiflex Probably Knows of an App for That

1/24/12

By Ken Magill

You know that free mobile app you love so much? Chances are the ads that support it were placed there by subscriber-acquisition firm Pontiflex.

Oh, and they’d appreciate it if you would pay for the app by supplying your email address, and in some cases your name and zip code, as well.

Launched in 2009, Pontiflex takes its name by merging the word pont, which is Latin for bridge, with flex to mean flexible bridge.

The company originally launched as a cost-per-lead email-address-acquisition firm aimed at helping marketers create and place their ads on publishers’ web sites.

But with the rise of mobile, Pontiflex’s business model has evolved.

The company still has relationships with hundreds of online publishers. It still does business on a cost-per-lead basis. But it also sponsors—or more accurately, its clients sponsor—more than 1,000 mobile apps, from games to utilities to music.

“When we started the goal was to create a marketplace around cost-per-lead to help people grow their email databases. It was all web focused and we created technology that aggregated all the web CPL inventory out there,” said Zephrin Lasker, CEO and co-founder of Pontiflex. “But we knew we had to get broader and had always planned to push into mobile.”

When an advertiser signs with Pontiflex, the company places ads in the various apps likely to generate signups and then dynamically optimizes the campaign according to which apps are performing best, according to Lasker.

And thankfully, Pontiflex does not place clients’ ads in the annoying banners that tend to get in the way of game play.

“We’ve created a full-screen ad unit that—it depends on the app developer—some of them show it on launch, some of them show it in between levels,” he said. “We typically don’t run banners because we’ve found that the engagement with them is very low and there are a lot of accidental clicks.”

Currently, more than 500 brands use Pontiflex and the company drives more than 150,000 email signups a day on their behalves, according to Lasker.

Pricing ranges from around 65 cents to $2 per signup, according to Lasker.

“It depends on how much data you want,” he said. “If you just want email, that’s going to be less expensive than if you want email and postal address.”

Pontiflex has also partnered with a number of top-tier email service providers to sell its services through them to their clients. The company’s ESP partners include ExactTarget, Silverpop, CheetahMail, StrongMail, Responsys, eROI, PulsePoint, Bronto and Blue Hornet.

According to Lasker, whether or not mobile apps drive most of the company’s sign ups “depends on the day. But the balance is definitely shifting toward mobile.”

According to Jordan Cohen, vice president of business development for Pontiflex, a significant point of difference the company offers is transparency.

With its ESP relationships, Pontiflex also has access to additional reporting data enabling the ability to tell how engaged subscribers are by source, he said.

“We are totally transparent about source,” Cohen said. “The client knows which app they are on. We can look at source data and see how well each source is performing.”

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