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[Video] Babac Vafaey of Metric Science, talks about participating in the Cisco BIG Awards

Metric Science was co-founded a year ago by Babac Vafaey to serve as an analytics platform for advertisers and publishers. He reached the semifinals of the Cisco Big Awards in 2012, and he's here to tell us more about the process that he went through.

Babac, let's start off by telling us how the idea for Metric Science came about?

So I was working in online advertising for about five years previously to setting up Metric Science. And, really, I was shocked at the level of information that both buyers and sellers of online advertising had about the campaigns they run. So I set up Metric Science with a view to re-address in three key areas, the first being transparency-- so telling advertisers and publishers where their ads actually run.

The second is ad quality. So for example, viewability-- at present, advertisers don't actually have an understanding of whether their ad has been seen as opposed to served. And then the last is evaluation. So just giving advertisers and publishers more metrics to really evaluate their campaigns.

So how does the technology behind the scenes work?

Very simple, in terms of implementation at least. You take an existing ad tag and you append our code around the ad tag. And then when the ad tag is given to publishers and websites, it monitors the information we're looking for and then sends it back to our database. And then advertisers and publishers can look into our database and look at the analytics dashboard in real time and make appropriate decisions.

Well, congratulations on reaching the semifinals of the 2012 Cisco Big Awards. What made you enter initially?

Well, after finding the Cisco Big Awards on ITProPortal, really having a look at what they were looking for, I think it really aligned to do what we are trying as far as to be as a business. So they were after companies which showed British technology innovation and businesses which really changed or were looking to change industries they worked in. And I really feel that's what at Metric Science we're trying to do. We're trying to make our technology more freely available within the industry. And we're doing that by changing the way it's distributed, which is online, self-service, and form-free.

Well, tell us a little bit about the application process for the Cisco Big Awards. What were the sort of criteria you had to fulfill?

So in the initial stages, they wanted us to clarify what the business was about, whether the business was at just a concept stage or whether there was a real working prototype, and then, based on the type of stage we were at, more information. So at the time that we actually entered the competition, we were at the beta stage of our actual software, and we had a number of different companies actually using the software. So from our point of view, it's just telling them how that product was being used and any early indications on how people were perceiving it. And, of course, how we were going to make money from this product.

And of course, as part of that process, you worked with a Cisco mentor. How did their input help you along the way?

The Cisco mentor was really, really useful. I mean, he made us really think about areas of the business which we hadn't really looked at. Being, at the time of entering the competition, the company was about six months old. And when you're head down, trying to build a product that you think's useful for a certain industry, there's a lot of other things that you seem to overlook.

But he helped us think about those things, put together a comprehensive business plan, and acted, in a way, as an investor who is looking to invest in our business. He really challenged us and asked us the questions that prepared us to go out to market and potentially face investors.

Well, have you found that the process that you went through on the Cisco Big Awards has had a lasting effect on how you conduct your business?

Definitely. I mean, I think the whole approach and being part of the Cisco Big Awards and the press, which Cisco did a great job of promoting, really helped us as a business. We had people come up to us and say, congratulations on reaching the semifinals of the Big Awards, and people really noticed. It was great platform for us to say we've been recognized by a company like Cisco, who is known for aligning themselves with British innovation in technology and using it as a platform to go out and speak to more companies and tell them about the things we were doing.

Well, obviously your business is ongoing, it's constantly developing. What's the future for Metric Science?

Well, after the Cisco Big Awards, we actually rolled out of beta and into our full version. And now our product's freely available on our website. We've launched a number of integrated campaigns. And most recently, we've integrated our technology into a lead-in, online ad network called PowerLinks, who specialize in In-Text and In-Image.

So really, the future for us is to try and get our analytics and our software into as many places as possible, either by allowing and enabling people to visit the website and use it within a few clicks, or whether it's us going to existing distributors with our technology and integrating our technology with them.

And finally, for anyone who's in the same position that you were before you went to the Cisco Big Awards, what advice would you give to someone who's considering entering?

I'd say don't hesitate. Whatever stage of business you're at, whether it's just a concept or whether you are an established business that's been running for a year and training for a year, enter. It's all about the idea. And working with the Cisco team, they recognize innovation. They recognize when you're trying to do something different in a changing market. And also, they give you a great platform to learn more about your product for the Cisco mentoring screen, and also to speak to investors, IP lawyers, and a whole customer base just by being involved in the program. So, I'd say don't hesitate. Get involved today.

Desire worked at ITProPortal right at the beginning and was instrumental in turning it into the leading publication we all know and love today. He then moved on to be the Editor of TechRadarPro - a position he still holds - and has recently been reunited with ITProPortal since Future Publishing's acquisition of Net Communities.