Where it's based: Salt Lake City
When it was founded: 2014
Why it's Fierce: While most established brand advertisers are trying to figure out the most effective way to move from their traditional TV base to the entirely new world of digital advertising, Molio is moving in exactly the opposite direction. And according to its co-founder and CEO Jeff Davis, Molio has already figured out how to get the best digital return on its clients' ad dollars: by actively testing and adjusting online ads throughout the advertiser's campaign.
Before Molio was Molio, its team was the force behind one of YouTube's earliest brand campaigns, Orabrush. The campaign was notable as the first to launch a consumer product globally with only digital advertising. And the success of Orabrush--a product whose inventor, 80-year-old Dr. Bob, didn't initially get traction--includes its recent listing by YouTube as one of the 20 most iconic video ads of the OTT provider's last 10 years.
The team's second campaign combined video ads with crowdfunding for Orabrush's next product, Orapup. "We (placed) a video about a prototype product that we had not yet manufactured, and raised $750,000 before I even had the mold," Davis said, with about $62,000 of that crowdfunded and the rest raised from pre-orders, according to a case study. Orapup pre-sold 40,000 units and garnered more than 23.6 million views on YouTube, outstripping established pet brands like Purina, Iams and Pedigree.
"The machine behind our success is Molio," Davis said.
Molio was developed through constant testing of ad placements on YouTube built on Davis' concept of "reverse marketing"--advertising products first on digital platforms, and then gradually shifting over to the older, traditional ad medium of television.
Reverse marketing, or what the company has dubbed the "Molio Method," requires more cooperation and tighter communication between the ad buyer and clients. "In the old world the media buyer, the brand agency and the brand manufacturer weren't necessarily in the same room," Davis said. "That does not work in today's world."
Instead, Molio's team sees themselves as content creators and media buyers; those two elements are integrated to create online campaigns. Rather than building on a single creative idea and buying media based solely upon that, Molio constantly creates, tests and refines ad content. That, combined with deeper analytics, allows for some much more significant results from digital ads that are placed on multiple platforms--not just YouTube but also Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites with advertising placement capability.
"I would never today go after and build a marketing plan for a product or service the way I did at Procter & Gamble," Davis said, noting he worked at Procter & Gamble for 23 years. "Today I would start with digital, and video, and test my way through to success. Eventually you get to television, you get to retail."
The Salt Lake City-based company has offices in New York and Los Angeles, and 20 employees total. Molio brought in $3 million in its Series A funding round, with investors like Peak Ventures, Greycroft Partners and True Ventures, among others.
Molio has 16 different brands advertising on YouTube's platform currently, including Wilson Staff, Mile IQ, and an attention-grabbing campaign for Poo-pourri.
What's next: "An exciting thing we're working on is a process for media buying," Davis said. One element of the project is creating a modular approach to a campaign, developing "segments so we can dynamically assemble, maybe even with (automation) software in the future, and test various elements of a campaign" running on a platform like YouTube or Facebook.
The advertising market's shift toward digital is picking up, creating new challenges for Molio. "The biggest challenge is … the pace at which things are changing," Davis said. "Look at video and the ability to (place video ads) on different platforms. We've got seven or eight more than we did a year ago."
Still, Molio's ability to create huge brand awareness in its online campaigns sets it in a strong position. The company doesn't, for example, buy into Google Preferred, the premium placement service that Google began offering last year to major brands.
"We've never done that. Google Preferred is for those who want to hit the right audiences every day," Davis said. "I think we get (our brands) preferred premium results every day, because we're on the system every day to do that."