In 2017, Mihail Kudryavskyi launched Membrana Media, a company to help publishers manage their ads so well that Membrana could be thought of as a team member. He chipped away at building the business but it wasn’t until 2020 when he began to devote 100% of his time to it. “I quit my job and focused all of my efforts on this project,” he says.“Our mission became to fight for the open web. We wanted publishers - and independent publishers - to grow and stay independent.”
Mihail Kudryavskyi, Founder
A champion for independent publishers
As they ramped up programmatic advertising in their home market of Ukraine, the Russia-Ukraine war began in February 2022, changing everything. The conflict meant that budgets for display advertising in what was once a robust market dropped by 75%, and soon Mihail was brainstorming on how to keep his business going. “When you’re in a critical situation, you start thinking outside the box about new ideas,” he explains.
Mihail launched a video production studio allowing publishers to create high-quality video content that Membrana could also help them monetize. They felt it was their civic duty to help add another revenue stream for Ukrainian publishers. “Ads are a lifeblood for news and publishing industry. And most Ukrainian publishers relied totally on display advertising for revenue, but this opened up a new revenue stream for them by enabling them to create engaging content and monetize it with video ads,” Mihail explains.
To do this, Membrana crafts videos inspired by publishers' written content. Then, the team monitors which content gets the most engagement and places ads in the content through the Membrana Player, which connects publishers to all major video advertising exchanges via Header Bidding and Google Open Bidding. “We have a team of people who create video content for publishers on a daily basis,” he says. “This includes the top news or highlights of the day.” Membrana has seen this work increase programmatic revenue for publishers by 60% or more.
Membrana implemented this for EPravda and Life Pravda, two Ukrainian news sites whose display advertising revenue dropped after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Membrana team created video content for them and monetized it, resulting in 100% increase in revenue in two months.
As Membrana continues to grow, their partnership with Google continues to be instrumental. “We consider Google the most important partner to our business so far,” he says. “We rely totally on our income from programmatic monetization. And that’s allowed us to expand to five markets without any outside investments. We take our share and we reinvest our share in our further growth.”
Membrana continues to help publishers adapt to new content formats like video and their team collaborates with editors, agencies, and media houses worldwide to continue to expand their global impact. “We’re not only helping publishers in Ukraine, but also in many countries across Europe, Asia and South Africa. No matter where you are, it can be really hard for a publisher who has been creating text content for decades to start producing quality video content.”
In 2023, Membrana Media achieved Google Certified Publishing Partner (GCPP) status which they’re hoping will open the door to more opportunities and expand further with even more innovative and diverse tools and continuing to empower independent publishers and editors.
But they’re sticking to their core tenants. “Being able to support Ukrainian publishers at a time like this is so important,” says Mihail. “We’re proud to help them fund their content and journalism, ensure people can access that content for free, and build sustainable businesses.”