On the surface, the move seems counterintuitive: a guy working for a provider of self-serve ad technology jumping to a company that made its rep performing media-buying services. Since mid-September, Townsend has operated as Collective’s chief product officer.
But some old ad nets have changed. While they haven’t abandoned their services-oriented models, they’ve focused increasingly on creating tech offerings. Count Collective among them.
“I’ve come out to build the self-serve technology platform, to integrate the content, services and technologies – what we call the assisted self-service model,” Townsend told AdExchanger.
Collective has 350 employees worldwide and, according to Townsend, works with 1,500 advertisers, with 77 of the top 100 brands running current campaigns through Collective’s systems.
It’s also made the obligatory dip into programmatic, though Townsend is quick to point out this extends well beyond the confines of RTB (half of Collective’s buying comes from direct or premium relationships, the other half in an exchange environment).
Collective, he said, manages private exchange-type environments and also automates elements of the direct sales process.
But Townsend is also aware that Collective, because of its roots, is usually placed in the same ad network box as companies like Rocket Fuel, Specific Media and CPXi.
“Thanks to Terry Kawaja, we are all in boxes,” he said. “Once you get labeled with something, it sticks, even though we’ve been talking about how, on any given month, over 50% of our business is done through the programmatic channel.”
So where does Collective want to be?
“The full multiscreen partner,” Townsend said. “And it’s something we’re all building to. We’re all trying to look at automating all aspects of the buying process.”
Townsend spoke with AdExchanger.