Otto Digital’s Mendez Launches Optimization, Marketing Firm

Serial entrepreneur Jonathan Mendez is at it again.

Two years ago, Mendez teamed up with Offermatica’s Roche brothers to form Otto Digital, a sister agency specializing in marketing at the optimization firm. After Web analytics firm Omniture acquired Offermatica and Otto last year, Mendez has exited to form his own agency, Ramp Digital: Relevance Amplified.

jonathan_mendez(2).jpgIn explaining his departure, Mendez told ClickZ he wanted to strike out on his own and help advertisers and ad agencies work more closely with technology companies, including those offering emerging analytics and optimization tools. Earlier in his career, Mendez founded VitaminLab, a Web site that sold vitamins and other dietary supplements.

In his latest startup, Mendez will build upon his experience at Offermatica and Otto Digital, which specialize in Web site optimization and multivariate testing. These tools are designed to help Web sites track how visitors are using a Web site and fine tune it to reach performance goals, such as converting visitors to shoppers or other metrics.

While not all Web sites and advertisers deploy optimization and testing tools, Mendez says it will soon not be an option. “There’s limited inventory in search and display, but the amount of advertising spend is going to double in the next two to three years. Optimization and improving conversion rates is going to become essential.”

Problem is, Mendez said: “There’s not that many people who understand how to execute on that technology, what to be done, what to test, how to test, and when to test. Traditional agencies don’t really have that knowledge in house to deliver that to clients.”

Pointing out that optimization technology vendors, such as Offermatica, Kefta, and Optimost, have been acquired by other companies, Mendez hopes to offer optimization services as a pure play or standalone company.

Ramp will work with brands, advertisers, and agencies to establish benchmarks around brands to optimize key metrics such as time spent per visitor, then determine the appropriate actions based on testing, and develop a strategy.

Consultancy agencies have typically focused more on design, virtual and social media, or been attached to a larger agency.

Mendez’s new agency will work with Omniture as an agency partner. Omniture’s analytics package will be embedded into Ramp’s services such as serving of ad units, landing pages, and conversions. “Testing, targeting, and optimization is not part of a process, it’s a mandatory part of marketing. It’s not optional,” said Mendez.

An early offering from Ramp is a widget-like application called an Adplication. The unit contains data refreshed dynamically per impression. These applications are provided through a partnership with technology company Dapper, which is able to extracts data from a page or database and pull it into the ad. It is currently being tested for an unnamed automotive client of Ramp’s.

The two companies are testing the unit for the travel site to link destinations with events. A consumer can look up a concert or other event. “A site might deliver static ads,” said Jon Aizen, CTO at Dapper. “That’s the best they can do today.”

Aizen said sometimes they can do a bit better. Through Dapper each ad execution contains data directed to an individual Internet user based on a travel destination and date. “On the event Web site, it can extract the event on the fly, query the travel agency, know you’re going to the name of the event in that city on that date, and [show] these are the hotels within two miles,” said Aizen. “What’s really cool about these kinds of ads is they can be built today and they’re done ad-hoc. You don’t have to do extra programming.”

Dapper got in touch with Ramp’s founder after Aizen and his partner read Mendez’ blog. Since then the two companies have teamed up on campaigns and have a few in the pipeline.

As a company that works with advertisers and technology vendors, Dapper finds Ramp to be a good partner. “[Jonathan] is a pioneer, a little more progressive, he has the ability to bring that enthusiasm to people that have to catch up a little,” said Aizen. “He’s been good about connecting us with people, and approaching people together.”

New York-based Ramp Digital has been operating quietly since early this year and is expected to launch today. It currently counts a handful of clients to its roster, though it’s not about to name any at this time. Mendez said he has aggressive plans to expand from its current five employees within the next 30 days.

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