Unpacking Cross-Channel Advertising With Dmg’s New CTO, Sharon Leon

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dmgThe old ad networks have changed.

Many have rebranded and refocused as ad tech companies. But dmg, which originated in 2007 as a media arm of ad services provider DSNR Ltd., still considers itself an ad network – though it also wants to be thought of as a provider of cross-channel digital advertising solutions for publishers, brands and agencies across online, mobile and social channels.

Its new CTO, Sharon Leon, whose appointment was made public Monday, will help facilitate this.

In particular, Leon will oversee the teams developing dmg’s PerformR platform.

“Dmg’s PerformR is the platform that helps us with optimization on the tech side,” Leon said. “This is one of the products that we have that helps us give transparency to customers.”

Prior to joining dmg, Leon served as VP at AOL’s ICQ, as CEO for Easy-Forex Technologies and as COO of Crossrider (which has since been acquired by market.com).

Leon spoke with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: How does dmg position itself in the ad tech space?

SHARON LEON: Dmg is a global performance-based digital advertising platform. We run a specialized ad network across channels on social mediums as well as through video and mobile campaigns, either on the web or in apps. One thing that differentiates us is our global business. We focus on both [established and emerging] markets. The main thing about dmg is that we’re a performance-based company, and that we have everything in-house. We don’t rely simple on clicks and views for attribution. Rather, we try to understand where the client came from.

Who are dmg's target clients and in what regions do you do the majority of your business?

We have clients worldwide, in Europe, the US, Latin America, Japan, Singapore and others. We have a range of customers, from brands looking to maximize their ROI on ad spend and we also have brand clients in video.

Dmg is headquartered in Ra'anana. Can you comment on the evolution of the tech industry in Israel?

Israel is indeed one of the biggest places in the world if you compare companies per capita in the ad tech industry. I can’t speak on specific data, but a lot of companies here are focusing on digital media. One of the most notable companies is Conduit. A lot of companies are focusing on mobile, and almost every other channel in the digital media industry. In a nutshell, some of the most well-established companies in the world are using Israeli companies for ad tech.

In your new role at CTO will you focus efforts locally or abroad? What are your goals?

We’re not focusing on Israel as a market because we’re focusing globally. The reason I joined dmg is because I see a tremendous opportunity in leading the company’s technology direction in terms of data use across channels on all platforms that we have.

My belief is that companies really want to see a measurable ROI, and I’m talking specifically about brands. I think that a DMP’s goal is to be on the cutting edge, and technology is the key. This means smarter media buying through RTB.

The challenge that we have is to be better informed in terms of data, and data use, and to develop our ability to build references between channels. Facebook and AppNexus don’t speak to each other, for example, in terms of technology.

There is a big challenge in connecting different platforms in terms of underlying data that can bring us highlights and insights about users. The end goal is to give the maximum lifetime value to the advertisers.

How do you see the industry adapting to programmatic advertising?

It’s getting there, slowly. I think companies really understand now, more so in the past, that they have to accept programmatic advertising to be a significant player in the media world and, of course, to have a better understanding of the user.

I think that the challenge is to have a better quality of data, for example tracking on mobile. Another major challenge with programmatic is the risk of fraud. You don’t always know who downloaded your software, or how users will use the software.

I think this is a challenge that’s facing the whole industry. But this is where a lot of the spend is going so we’ll have to be very sharp in terms of data correlation and multiscreen ability.

What do you see trending in cross-channel advertising?

Now we can see that brands and, generally speaking, companies in the past few months are starting to understand that digital media advertising should be approached as much as possible, in as many channels as possible. Cross-channel advertising means you have more coverage, and the data you collect can be better executed. Everything becomes more accurate, which results in better ROI.

The main reason for cross-channel advertising is not only positioning but also results. The main challenge, of course, is to make everything work together. I think in the ad tech work, the potential is enormous.

What potentials do you see unfolding for cross-channel marketing?

In terms of technology, DMPs (data-management platforms) will have more data. In mobile we’ll have more attribution. For example, you’ll be able to know if someone is at home or at work. That data will be become increasingly more valuable. You’ll know if a specific user is more likely to buy based on that user’s history. The whole channel will connect to better performing DMPs.

Of course in the end, everything is in PII. So, there are limitations. But privacy issues are changing. You see that more people are willing to share their data. I think this trend will continue and the technology will catch up.

We already have all the data we need, essentially, but we don’t use it because of privacy. This is, of course, very important. You don’t want to breach any trust. I’m not talking about dmg here, but how I see the Internet. People are beginning to understand that they’ll get a better advertising experience because of the data that they agree or don’t agree to share.

I also see a lot more technology developing around prediction. If the prediction is good, you’re better able to improve targeting. In the end, you’ll see a better model for advertisers.

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