A Chat with Chris Tragos of Jetpack

Story by Benjamin F. Kuo


We recently ran into Chris Tragos, one of the co-founders of Jetpack (, provider of an online ad platform. Tragos is a veteran of technology industry here, having come from Spin Media (formerly, Buzznet) with his two other co-founders. We thought we'd talk with Chris about what Jetpack is up to.

What is Jetpack, and what do you do?

Chris Tragos: Jetpack is an ad platform, which I would describe as the most beautiful, best engaging, and most performant ad product for desktop, mobile, and tablet. We are primarily focused on publishers. Our business is helping those guys make more money, through our better ad product. Our ad product helps them close more RFPs, gives them better engagement, and creates additional inventory which is not just an ad spot on a page. That allows them to justify higher CPMs for those kinds of ads. We also have a managed serviecs business, where we have campaign managers and designers working on RFPs and mocks, and when a campaign is sold, will design the ad units all the way through to ad approval. The HTML5 platform that we use is also available as a self service tool to customers.

Can you explain exactly what is different about your ads?

Chris Tragos: Typically, with an advertising RFP, a campaign will come pre-loaded with a standard ad spot and creative. What we provide, is really the rest of it. We offer up customers a high impact creative which is not bounded by the box. It can live anywhere on the page, and it can contain any kind of element you want--video, photos, interactivity. By the nature of its size, its dimensions, and presence outside the box, that become a much more impactful presence on the page. That means it is also much more engaging and creative. As a result, our customers see a much higher percentage of engagement, more than 5 percent, versus the standard ad creative, which is a very small percentage of that.

Talk a bit about your team, and the story on how you got from Buzznet to Jetpack?

Chris Tragos: The tree founders of Jetpack, myself, Kevin Woolery, and Marc Brown were all working on the publisher side at Spin Media (Editor's note: previously Buzznet) I was running sales, development, and operations, and looking at all these RFPs that came in. I noticed that all of those RFPs wanted more placement than just a standard ad on the page. They wanted something custom, to close the deal. At Spin Media, we tried to do that ourselves, but that really sucked up product and development resources, who really should have been working on building the user experience, rather than ads. We tried to use third parties, but rich media companies are great ad serving agencies, but not so good at serving publishers. Working with publishers revealed this really cool opportunity, to help deal with the custom ad unit challenge that those publishers are facing.

Why don't those companies serve publishers that well?

Chris Tragos: Traditional rich media companies, like Seismic or Pointroll, and not fully integrative. You've got to also find another production company, which ends up taking longer and costing more. At Jetpack, we don't outsource production, and we manage all of the software development within Jetpack. That makes things extremely efficient, and for a publisher, that means its very cost effective.

What's the hardest challenge for your company?

Chris Tragos: That's a good question. I think, when you are a bootstrapped company, you don't have all the resources you'd like in the world to go after any idea. But, you still have lots of ideas. So, maybe it just takes you longer to get there. That said, we're working on two great ideas right now. The first, which we are getting ready to launch, is a self service tool for designers, sometime in October. Our self service product right now is what we used to develop ads, but you have to know things like Javascript. But, most publishers don't have a dedicated engineer, which is limiting our market potential. So, for the last year or so, we've been building a service which is designer oriented, which has the same power and flexibility of our current developer tool, but you don't have to know HTML code to use it. It's user friendly, and it's useful even to designers who just know Photoshop or Adobe Edge. The second idea we're working on, which we'll also start testing in October, is a high impact, programmatic solution. We're looking to bring high impact into the world of programmatic. So, our greatest challenge is we know we have these ideas, and want to get them done, but we've got fewer resources and it takes a little more time to get there.