American Express OPEN Targeting SMBs With AdReady Display Ad Tech Says VP Ciccone

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Ad ManagerAmerican Express OPEN announced its new AdManager product powered by display ad, demand-side platform AdReady. The companies claim that AdManager simplifies digital ad campaigns "by offering a start-to-finish platform that tackles every facet of building and sustaining campaigns, from creating ads to determining where they will appear." Read the release.

American Express OPEN vp Robert Ciccone discussed the announcement and its implications.

AdExchanger.com: Why is advertising in particular an important part of what OPEN wants to offer its customers?

RC: We're looking to help small businesses and help them do more business, and the number one small business need that we've repeatedly heard is, "Help me get more customers" - in a variety of different ways. We know that online advertising is growing, and online itself is an increasingly important medium in which consumers consume information. There is a lot of growth in marketing and marketing services online, and we want to help the small businesses identify best-in-class solutions and enter this space.

A lot of SMBs want to focus on the local advertising angle. Is this a solution – display - for local advertising?

Display can be very local. I think there is a certain size of advertiser where display can be effective, but it doesn't have to be national. And the targeting that is offered in this tool is very specific. So demographic as well as geography, time of day, any type of targeting that you can do in display you can do in the tool. And the tool brings sort of that level of targeting that's normally reserved for the larger corporate clients down to a smaller and medium‑sized business. So they can enter this space now. It just takes a certain amount of budget.

If Clickable is providing [its search marketing solution] and AdReady is providing [the display solution to OPEN], how does OPEN uniquely bring those together so they can efficiently work together?

A lot of it has to do with the way the tools are designed and how we're going to progress them as they evolve. So a lot of display customers will use our elite package, we anticipate. And the elite package is an outsourced solution, so "Do it for me." And when that happens it's very easy to combine those two different marketing sources. And then if you're doing the tool yourself with both of them, the outstanding reporting, the outstanding analytics in both tools, you'll be able to make the most of that. Today, they work together to a certain degree, and then over time as things progress, it'll get even stronger and stronger.

Why would an SMB marketer use OPEN versus Google Ad Words?

Ad Manager provides a broad selection of publishers. You can reach 95% of the web through Ad Manager with specific targeting, demographics, gender and location‑based parameters. It's an incredibly easy to use tool, but also incredibly powerful. You can drill down to the tiniest degree of targeting, or keep it broad –this includes the reporting capabilities. Lastly, there’s the ability to make the creative using hundreds of templates and you get the seven standard IAB sizes immediately.

Do you think that there's a way that you're leveraging the OPEN brand that makes it a unique opportunity for your user?

I think there is something about the brand and the trust that the American Express American Express OPEN brands signify. Our card members feel it, and even our non‑card members still identify American Express with trust and with services as well. So the trust is they know a product we provide is going to work really well, we're going to stand behind it, and we have either built it, selected it or partnered with people so that it's going to be outstanding. They don't necessarily need to do the research, because we've done it for them.

Also, we are known for service, which is extremely important. All of our apps have outstanding service associated with them -someone to pick up the phone, someone to call, someone to ask questions of. Service is going to be there.

Is there a danger for American Express and OPEN going outside of your core offering? How do you manage that?

I don't think it's a danger. We've been expanding outside our core offering for a little while now. As I said at the beginning, we are known as a charge and credit card company, but if you look at the way we've been helping small businesses, OPEN Forum has been out there for a couple of years, and it is one of the most‑visited small business websites out there. So people are coming to OPEN Forum to have that conversation, to learn about better ways to run their business, getting tips. And that's expanded outside the charge and credit card. We have great support in different advocacy groups, whether it's the Make Mine a Million program or other advocacy groups. We even offer seminars and on ways to win government procurement contracts, which can be a maze to work through, yet can be very lucrative.

The business apps are a natural extension of our helping small businesses.

By John Ebbert

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