About Monty

Monty Munford has more than 15 years' experience in mobile, digital media, web and journalism. He is the founder of Mob76, a company that helps tech companies raise money and exit. He speaks regularly at global media events with a focus on Africa, writes a weekly column for The Telegraph, is a regular contributor to The Economist, Wired, Mashable and speaks regularly on the BBC World Service.

EXCLUSIVE Q&A: George Dixon, Strategy Director, Mobsta

After more than seven years at the mega-agency MediaCom, George Dixon has turned his attention to the new Wild West of mobile; geolocation and its leading exponent Mobsta. Here he explains the need for regulation and why the industry has to wise up and deliver on its undoubted promise.

mobstaMost of the readers of the blog are highly tech-savvy, but might not be aware of the challenges of geolocation and Mobsta’s position in the ecosystem. Pray tell us more.

We are a UK-based tech company working exclusively in the UK with US technology company Placecast and have a highly accurate location-powered product working with some of the UK’s biggest brands. Advertisers want to know now more than ever where their advertising £s are going. Demystifying technology is part of this as ensuring their media spend is served to their target audience in the right place and moment. We have recently demonstrated the accuracy of our technology and data at tracking visitors into store locations, proving that we can deliver on the promise of location.

But, rather like the early mobile games and advertising days, it appears there are some charlatans out there.

That’s unfortunately true. We believe our tech platform delivers on its promises of accurate and scalable location targeting and delivery. But we need more regulation in the industry so it can winnow out any companies that promise targets they will never deliver. A shake-out is definitely needed.

So it’s about delivering true geolcation results to brands that they can trust?

Now more than ever clients want to understand where their audience is and what they are doing. They need to prove the effect of their media beyond clicks and site visits. We can demonstrate the effect of a media spend on driving actual visits into stores
. By offering the most accurate solution in the market as well as being able to verify location data to demonstrate its accuracy.

So what does the product actually do?

Our location platform tracks consumer’s movements based on GPS signals passed from their phones (all done anonymously). This allows us to understand whether they are in market for a new car, seen on a BMW forecourt, regular cinema goers or frequent shoppers at Tesco.

Using this data, we deliver advertising campaigns in the optimum place and moment then monitor the location behaviour of those delivered ads to see if it leads them to a different store or location in the future i.e. to visit an Audi dealer after BMW or try Sainsbury having been to Tesco in the past.

So explain to me as if I’m Joe Public, not a highly respected tech writer.

All mobile phones give off location signals when they are being used. The signals give information about where someone is and how often they go there. Mobsta’s technology allows us to monitor these signals to create relevant groups of people to target for advertising. Such as new film releases to people who frequently go to the cinema or offers in their favourite shops.

Mobsta began as a media strategy company, so how did you get here?

Our founders are highly experienced media professionals who were keen to take advantage of the growing interest in mobile advertising. You’re right in saying Mobsta started as a mobile strategy company helping monetise products and publishers’ inventory. Location was one of those products, at the time with the unique ability to target people based on their current location according to the GPS signals shared by their phones.

So give me some numbers.

We track over 45 million users each month in the UK, 500 million globally to build audiences and gather insights. This is already a $2 billion business and those numbers are only going to increase.

Walk me through the use experience.

It’s very simple; a consumer doesn’t have to do anything. They opt in to share their location when they use apps on their phone. Their data is collected anonymously, no individual information is stored. As they use their phone location relevant adverts would be sent to their phone as they browse different apps.

I understand you recently came top in a survey based on the major geolocation players?

We believe we have proved the quality of our data and platform with two tests in the last 12 months, one in the US and one in the UK. Each of which we came out on top showing key silo and verticals. We are confident we have the most accurate platform in the market and are really proud of our performance in recent tests.

Where is the team based and what’s your funding history?

We are based in London, our tech is based in San Francisco whilst we have smaller offices in New York, Amsterdam and are working with partners in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
 As for funding, we are privately owned, but we may take seed, Series A etc when the time and opportunity is right.

Well, now my readers and I know more about the growing importance of geolocation. Thanks for sharing and coming in, George.

Thanks for having me.

BOOK REVIEW: The Dark North Volume 1

A collection of five Scandinavian illustrators and writers shines a light on the talent of fantastic art and unique storytelling.


northAs a print addict and graphic admirer, I am not immediately attracted to adult comic books, having left comics behind when I discovered girls.

In many ways, I find adults enjoying comic books and playing similar video games as not my favoured tribe. I find it a bit sad that these people should be out finding life, not living narrowly within their digital version of it; but maybe that’s because I’m an older bastard and was lucky enough to travel and see the world in the pre-surveillance days.

The Dark North (Volume 1), however, was a great and welcome surprise. Comprising of five stories that meld classic Norse mythology to fateful and modern-day road-trips, I found this collection of work unsettling and in many ways beautiful.

This is a coffee table book for those who look north for stories and not south. This is ice, not sand, darkness, not light. It is made by people who live by opposites, people born out of the aurora borealis, but who also spend discomfiting, different days.

The five stories here are wide-ranging, the first begins to be an American road trip, the driver following ghosts down and up a highway, lost in the quest. Wonderfully illustrated, it is like watching performance art in the Arctic circle, it is a great introduction to the other four stories.

These are less accessible to print addicts like myself, the art more gloomy and intense, where the power of Thor and the myths of local tales are wielded to overcome the reader.

This project came out of Kickstarter and the successful funding meant the dreams of the collective of individual were realised, Volume 2 is on its way and I will not only be reviewing it, I shall be reading and looking at it with great interest.

Geolocation, geolocation, geolocation?… Mobsta leads the way

London-based location targeting company Mobsta has come top in an independent ranking of geolocation providers in the UK, conducted by MediaCom, one of the world’s leading agencies.


MobstaThe mobile world has undergone several transformations since the mobile phone went mass market and at every stage of that development there have been Wild West situations.

Rather like a wagon train being surrounded by First Nation Americans, it has always been a business for explorers and not all of them honourable.

Mobile advertising, mobile games, mobile technologies… they’ve all attracted hucksters and bullshitters and not the new game in town is geolocation. An ecosystem is emerging, but there are no real regulations and standards for brands and agencies to refer to.

Fortunately, things are changing for the better and a recent independent ranking of geolocation providers in the UK. run by MediaCom, which can across three client brands, finally offers some form of yardstick.

The report was designed to determine the validity of the claims of many of the companies that they offer the best reach and accuracy and winner was… London-based location targeting company Mobsta.

Out of the nine participants, Mobsta, which employs Placecast’s programmatic technology, came first in both scale and accuracy tests. Out of the 15 providers were originally invited to participate in the test, nine companies declined to take part. I wonder why THAT was, maybe they shouldn’t have made it into the wagon train anyway.

“There are many companies who offer compelling targeting and measurement solutions but it’s difficult to know whose story is real and how accurately they can deliver on location targeting.

“We wanted to have confidence in our recommendations to clients, so created this test to help us cut through the claims, and offer definitive advice on how accurate hyper-local targeting is,” said Owain Wilson, Data Strategy Director at MediaCom.

Mobsta is a specialist in location targeting and audience profiling techniques and has the exclusive rights to the Placecast mobile data management platform (DMP) that aggregates location data and user behaviour across different devices in the physical world.

The company translates it into audience segments that can be targeted through mobile advertising campaigns via its Demand Side Platform (DSP). The platform delivers a understanding of the relationship between users and locations over time, enabling them to make smarter marketing decisions.

“With the ever-increasing use of mobile advertising and changes in format, we see a real opportunity for brands to use geolocation and welcome efforts like these to help brands navigate the crowded market place. Third party validation is key and we hope that this study will encourage more brands to invest in the technology to improve their campaigns,” concluded George Dixon, Strategy Director, Mobsta

New workmates are searched by co-workers on social media

A new report says that one in four employees search social media for information on new workmates


workmates The first day in a new job is always daunting, not least relationships with co-workers. In 2017, it appears that nosey parkers are turning to social media to find out who’s new at the company.

According to cybersecurity company Online Spy Shop, on a study into workplace social media snooping, as many as 24% of new workmates may search personal social media accounts for information.

In the first week of a new job, 1 in 4 workmates will search for you on social media. On the first day, only 5% will search for information, but that increases throughout the week as people get nosier. There can be no hidden skeletons because there is no place to hide them.

The report also goes on to say that 19% of respondents waited at least one day, but searched within the space of a week, with Twitter (bizarrely) being the most common platform for snooping on new colleagues, followed by Instagram and Facebook.

On the plus side, the report also says 34% of respondents said they will wait until they’ve got to know a colleague before searching for them, while 21% said they’ve never searched for a new colleague on social media.

As ever, pictures are more important than words. More than 25% of people who did admit to snooping, 25% did so to look at pictures, 22% wanted to find out relationship status, while only 3% said they did it just for ‘general nosiness’.

“Social media has put people’s private lives within tempting reach of anyone who cares to view it, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that so many people look up new colleagues as soon as they meet them, and in some cases, before they meet them.

“While most of it is undoubtedly innocent curiosity, this does raise genuine privacy concerns. I’d urge anyone to do two things. Firstly, make sure their privacy settings are how they want them to be and secondly, consider removing any posts they’d be uncomfortable with new colleagues seeing,” said Steve Roberts, cybersecurity consultant at Online Spy Shop.

Uber boom brings down taxi drivers’ wages by 10%

New survey shows that Uber has led to a 10% fall in wages for traditional taxi drivers, but overall driver numbers have boomed.


uberUber’s rollout across US cities has driven down wages by 10% among salaried taxi drivers, according to a new report from the University of Oxford.

The Oxford Martin School report Drivers of Disruption? drills into the the impact of Uber on taxi drivers from 2009 to 2015, using data on the rollout of Uber across cities from the American Community Survey (ACS), a leading source of information on the US workforce.

It found that on average the number of self-employed taxi drivers in a city went up by almost 50% after Uber was introduced, but also driving wages down by an average of 10% of traditional taxi drivers, compared to cities where Uber remained absent.

The study also found that:

• The number of hours worked increased among both salaried and self-employed taxi drivers

• Even traditional taxi services experienced growing employment after the introduction of Uber

• Uber drivers typically earn more per hour than their counterparts

• The decline in traditional taxi incomes was offset by an expansion of business income among self-employed drivers

“The data provides the first hard evidence of the impact of the ‘sharing economy’. Uber is the flagship of the sharing economy, but what our study shows is that even in one of the sharing economy’s most exposed industries, traditional jobs have not been displaced,” said Dr Frey, Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment.

The report raises questions about efforts being made, in parts of Europe and elsewhere, to ban or restrict the adoption of Uber. The losers, however, are undoubtedly traditional taxi drivers who have already lost 10% of their income… while the winners are customers who have more choice amid falling prices.

As Uber continues to spread across the US, it remains to be seen what the next trend will bring. It is certain, however, that traditional taxi drivers will continue

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