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"5 Minutes With" Guestmob's Yann Ngongang

Published: July 27, 2012

Author: Molly Shotwell

Yann Ngongang

PPC Associates’ interview series with some of the top in-house folks in the marketing biz continues with Yann Ngongang, CEO of next-generation hotel booking platform Guestmob.
Name:  Yann Ngongang
Company: Guestmob
Position: CEO
If you could invent something, what would it be? Mind-reading augmented reality glasses. Seriously, within the realm of what we do here at Guestmob and the challenges we face, I would invent an ad-serving algorithm that reads the mind of every web user to determine exact intent, willingness to pay, urgency to buy.

What’s the best part of working for your company? Lots of start-ups in the valley do cool things. We’re attempting to split the atom, to do the nearly impossible thing. It’s exciting and even unnerving to watch a small band of ragtag lunatics thinking that through sheer intelligence, hard work, and willpower, they can transform a sclerotic industry (hotel booking)’s unfair price-fixing agreements and turn the tables to give the power back to the people. And when you see the traction, the small victories, the shared human emotion of a team that bleeds/sweats together, then it becomes a beautiful thing…
What’s the first metric you check when you start work for the day? Intent = how much are people trying to book on Guestmob every day?
What’s one metric you never bother to look at? This is a tough question, a really tough one. Because labeling a metric to be meaningless assumes a level of certainty about the true levers of our business. And we’re so early in the journey that we look at everything, or as much as we can.
If you had 10 million dollars to invest and you could invest in Google or Facebook, which would you pick, and why? I presume you mean invest in Google vs. Facebook advertising, as opposed to invest in the stock market. I would wholeheartedly invest $0 in Facebook advertising, $9.5m in Google advertising, and $0.5m in a social media team to think through and execute a viral campaign on Facebook. My intuition, which now has been confirmed by the experiments we ran on Facebook, is that Facebook advertising is a dud, but the free/earned platform is extremely valuable. And if used properly, it can be a great multiplier for lead gen efforts on something like Google.
What do you think will be the most important marketing platform in 10 years? I’m not smart enough to know. But I think technology will continue splitting advertising dollars in half to determine which half is well spent and which half is wasted. If one compounds this halving of advertising waste, or doubling of advertising effectiveness, over 10 years, I would assume that not many marketing platforms will be very valuable, at least as businesses. Just like after decades of making communication networks more efficient, those businesses grew and eventually deteriorated.
What’s your favorite advertising campaign (e.g. Betty White Super Bowl ad, Got Milk billboard, etc.)? I would say Gillette’s fight for kisses ad. As a kung fu movie buff, and now father of twin 2-year-old girls, I’m reminded often of the scratchy face. But for Gillette to turn that into an existential household conflict worthy of revenge? Brilliant.
“The long tail is dying.” Agree or disagree? Disagree. The long tail is getting even longer, ever more infinite. With social media, we’ve increased content producers by orders of magnitude in my opinion. 
How has PPC Associates helped your company’s growth? SEM is about testing, measurement, and repeating. The experience PPC Associates has with e-commerce (especially the emerging e-commerce models), the analytical approach, has convinced me I’m working with the best team in the business.
Hillary Read, Marketing Manager

1 S Wacker Drive
Suite 2250

Chicago, IL 60606(650) 539-4124


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