Five Questions for Jonathan Graff – President, Kaboose Inc.

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“Kaboose Inc.”:http://www.kaboose.com is one of the world’s leading online media companies focused on kids and families. The Kaboose Network, including award-winning sites like “Funschool.com”:http://www.funschool.com, “Zeeks.com”:http://www.zeeks.com and “Kidsdomain.com”:http://www.kidsdomain.com, is a top 10 global Internet destination for over 6.5 million kids and families a month looking for entertaining, interactive and educational content. Jonathan has over 8 years Internet industry experience and an MBA from the University of Western Ontario.
*One Degree: Kaboose is geared to kids but makes aggressive use of advertising throughout most (all?) of its sites. Is there a right way to market to kids online without raising the ire of either parents or the government?*
Kaboose is a free site for kids and parents and is thus supported by advertising. Kaboose is the intermediary between millions of kids and parents and some of the largest brands in the world. We have many parents who bring their kids to Kaboose and they observe their kids interacting with our site, and thus are very aware of the advertising on it. So, the first thing an advertiser and publisher needs to constantly be aware of is that in the online world, where there are kids there are parents. Our most important role as a provider of ad supported content is to be a responsible publisher. That means accepting only ads that are suitable for a child of any age, approving the creative and messaging of every ad that goes up on the site.
*One Degree: You’ve got some pretty in-your-face interstitial ads on the site. The Pillsbury Doughboy just drew a “StrudelDoodle” all over my monitor! I’ve heard reports of technical horror stories with poorly coded ads on some Canadian sites. How do you guard against technical faux pas damaging your brand and your advertisers’ campaigns?*


There are always challenges with ads, especially 3rd party served ads like StrudelDoodle, where the publisher does not control the serving technology. Also, very few ad servers can account for every combination of software (operating system and browser) and hardware. However, Kaboose partners only with proven ad serving companies and our engineering team thoroughly tests all campaigns as they are launched on the site. We have never experienced an ad serving issue that would create a situation of harm to our brand or an advertising client.
*One Degree: Can you explain the strategy behind having lots of domains with different URLs, brands, and site structures?*
At first this was not so much strategy as a result of many opportunistic acquisitions. Kaboose has acquired and integrated six different companies since 2001. Our three core content acquisitions, Funschool, Zeeks and Kidsdomain all have unique core audiences with overlap. Funschool has kids 6 – 11 with a secondary audience of mothers. Kidsdomain has mothers with a secondary audience of kids, and Zeeks has a core audience of 9 – 14 year olds with a secondary audience of 6 – 11. Our audience has grown 400% with this scenario, however moving forward we will definitely see more unification of our brands and properties.
*One Degree: Have your business model and sources of revenue changed since the site was first envisioned and if so, how?*
Indeed. Kaboose was founded in 1999 as a multimedia development company and switched to a paid content subscription business in 2002. Finally, in mid-2003 we were receiving many calls from Fortune 500 companies such as Mattel, Kellogg’s and Nintendo who wanted to leverage our network to reach this audience. We analyzed the online ad market and saw tremendous positive differences between then and two years earlier. We changed our focus to become a free online media company supported by advertising and we have become the largest independent online media company in the kids and family space in North America. It was a great move.
*One Degree: Hey, “MaryKateAndAshley”:http://www.marykateandashley.com/ are asking questions on the zBoards! Can you get them to help us with _our_ Five Questions? :)*
Next time they drop by the office to say hello we’ll bring them over. 🙂

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