Paul Martino is CEO of Aggregate Knowledge, a buy-side optimization platform.
AdExchanger.com: What does the new Aggregate Knowledge (AK) Audience Discovery Platform do for advertisers and agencies that they can't do today?
AK's Audience Discovery Platform delivers real-time, simultaneous optimization of inventory, audience, and creative. Inventory is optimized by determining which individual sites, ad networks, and exchange buys perform best against campaign objectives. Audience is optimized by determining key attributes of the best performing audiences (whether demographic, psychographic, behavioral, etc) and only buying or retaining impressions from those people. Finally, creative is optimized by leveraging AK's personalization technology to customize the message to each user. Prior to AK's Audience Discovery Platform, awkwardly fitting point technologies were available that could only optimize within their own silos. Our unified approach leads to significantly better results and deeper insights.
AK makes it easy for our customers to get started using our Audience Discovery Platform. Today, we are announced three Audience Discovery Platform products:
- AK Audience Insights™ reveals off-target impressions from each inventory provider.
- AK Audience Validation™ eliminates waste by rejecting off-target impressions in real time.
- AK Audience Optimization™ delivers real-time campaign optimization via attitudinal, click, or conversion metrics derived from a deep understanding of the best performing impressions.
Are Aggregate Knowledge products full-service or self-service? What's the revenue model?
AK's products are all available on a full-service basis. We take a hands-on approach to managing each of our customer's success. AK gets paid based on the delivery of significant cost savings to our customers. The model can be either a percent of media spend or CPM based.
Does Aggregate Knowledge work with or compete with buying platforms such as Invite Media and MediaMath?
There are certainly some overlaps with companies in the broad category of 'trading desk' software. These companies would make ideal partners for AK in that they provide a key infrastructure for bidding and buying across the major ad exchanges. AK's core competency is around unified optimization, not on trading desk software. Therefore, don't be surprised to see AK partner with companies of this kind in the future.
Why are agencies announcing buying platform strategies? How does this mesh, potentially, with AK's product line?
It makes a tremendous amount of sense for the agencies to be developing buying platforms. The question comes down to: 'will this be done cost effectively by licensing a platform from AK or building the buying platform in-house?' The kind of optimization delivered by AK is really tough stuff. Literally, years of high-performance super computing has gone into the development of this unified optimization infrastructure. This is not easily replicated by agencies that have traditionally not done technology efforts in-house. That's one of the reasons why AK is announcing this product offering now. Agencies are in the midst of making these decisions, and we have a great offering to meet many of their needs.
Do you consider yourselves a technology company or services company?
We are a technology company that must deliver a compelling service. The display advertising business is service-driven and AK has built up excellent expertise in the customer management area over the past years to service this need. Under the hood, we are a technology company, but our customers are not buying technology. They are buying a service.
Quoting figures from a recent AK release, how do you boost reach up to 80% - isn't this a question of buying more media? Second, in addition to managing data to find the right user at the right time, etc., what other factors are in play to boost performance up to 60 percent?
AK works in two ways with its customers depending on their needs. In the first way, AK is responsible for sourcing media, and in the second way, AK is optimizing media that is already purchased. In the case study discussed in the press release, AK worked with its customer in the first way. As a result, a good portion of the boosted reach was achieved via smart media buying.
Achieving the overall 60% performance win was achieved via a combination of media and audience optimization. In this case, we used two of the three core AK technology components. In future campaigns with this customer, we will also deliver the third kind of optimization: creative optimization via our personalization platform.
AK appears to be demand-side focused. How about bringing your optimization capabilities to the supply side? Thoughts?
AK began its life on the supply side. Our first offerings in the recommendations space were certainly for the sell side. We continue to provide these services to major retailers and media sites. By delivering high-quality recommendations, customers buy more and stay on publishers' sites longer. This creates more ad inventory on which to optimize ad delivery. This deep understanding of the user, what he or she likes and dislikes, and the underlying discovery of hidden performance attributions are what are at the heart of our buy side offering.
Does data have a shelf life? Some agencies seem to think they will be able to leverage the piles of customer data they have. But, is it possible given changes in consumer habits and tastes?
Most data has a shelf life. News browsing behavior has a different shelf life than product purchase information. On the other hand, demographic data has a significantly longer shelf life as people stay in the same income or geographic brackets for some time and rarely change their gender! One of the core competencies of AK is its ability to ingest, normalize, and activate huge volumes of data. That competency requires an understanding of not just which sets are most predictive, but when and for how long those data sets achieve the customers' unique optimization goals.
How important is real-time, impression-level bidding? Holy Grail or hype?
Right now real-time is certainly more hype than holy grail. We believe that this will change markedly over the next year. As the next versions of the major exchanges offer real-time impression level bidding, the game is going to become dramatically different. In our estimation, the announcements of such exchanges will catch up to the reality of live service late this year and early next year.
When it happens, AK will be a true leader of impression level bidding. Our system was built for this use case, and we can't wait until exchanges are ready for us.
How does Aggregate Knowledge work with creative - in that creative is a key lever in the success of any campaign?
Our Personalized Creative product has been available to the market for almost one year now. It is fully integrated to our Audience Discovery Platform as one of the three types of optimization available (creative). It's also available as a stand-alone product when customers require creative optimization only.
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