Taykey CEO Avner On Targeting Today's Real-Time Trends With Digital Ads

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TaykeyAmit Avner is CEO and Co-Founder of Taykey, an online advertising technology company focused on the social advertising space.

Avner, who last spoke to AdExchanger in 2010, recently discussed industry trends and the latest with his company.

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AdExchanger: What's surprising you these days in the digital ad ecosystem?

AA: The more I'm in the space, the more I see how many things are broken - client services-wise. The clients are not getting what they should be getting. Technology can help solve it.

There are so many things that are not automated – and some things look like technology, but they're not. When the DSPs started to happen, such as Google’s Invite Media, these companies fixed gaps because they brought in technology. Still, social media, and a lot of other things in advertising are broken, and not automated enough.

What's your take on the importance of a technology company having a good services layer?

Yes, it's important. You want to make it easier for agencies and brands to understand what they're getting and using. We hired two designers who are full-time in the company to help us make our reports look attractive and useful. We work a lot on data visualization and real-time interests for clients’ brands. But they need a good client services team to help them understand it, because it's simply different and new.

And if clients are paying for it, they should be able to use it in other things, too.

Social media had the reputation for bringing user generated content - and a "scary" place to live for ads – to the media business. But now, social media is a brand opportunity. What happened?

Branding is a fancy word for "we don't want to measure something." Even if you're a brand, you can measure something. You need to have a goal for every campaign; otherwise, people will never be happy. If you want to have service providers who can give you the best service, you need to be able to measure something. One of the goals for our client services team when you do a branding campaign, is to help them understand what they're trying to achieve and how they can measure it. How could you know if they succeed or not and where you should spend your money? Everything nowadays is measurable, and everything should be measured. So yes, DR is everything in life.

So, how are you measuring for clients? How do you help them with success metrics?

For every client, it could be different.

For clients who do a branding campaign, it could be a mobile app that we'll work with. "How do you measure it?" We measure how many people go to sign up from the ad. This is a strict DR campaign, you can see how many people click and converted. Maybe the client doesn't want to pay for CPAs (cost-per-actions) - and that's fine, they still need to measure it. They also need to see how many people sign up, compare it to other vendors and mediums, and then decide if it works well or not. If clients want to do a bigger branding campaign, for example, they can also use companies like Radian6 to see how the chatter about their company has changed. This is measurable, but you need to decide on benchmarks: "Where are we now? What are we trying to achieve?" Then, you have to see how it has improved or changed. Everything is measurable in life.

What's the biggest challenge with your clients right now?

Most things in social media are still not recurring budgets. It's trials and IOs, and for them, it's confusing. Also, if they have goals, you can't do a branding campaign with 20K a month for three months. When you're a big company, you need to have bigger budgets, and have it be more recurring because results don't happen in a week or three weeks. You need to give it some time. There's a challenge because not everyone is willing to spend big sums of money on things without knowing the results. That's a problem. On the other hand, they can't expect results if they're not spending money to get the results.

What are some of the misconceptions around Taykey that you’d like to clear up?

The biggest misconception is people think we're a "likes" company. We do a lot of customer “Likes” campaigns - and we're pretty good at it - but we're doing so much more. We're doing CPMs, CPCs, CPAs and real-time [buying]. "Do you want to find people who are ‘happy’ right now? How can you reach them?" We find "happy" trends, and reach out to them. The same with “music” and so on. It's real-time as a medium and we’re about how to find people right now – it’s not just about "likes."

How do you describe what Taykey does?

My simplest way to put it is: Taykey scans the web to find people's interests and audience's interests right now; we then generate keywords based on it to improve media [targeting]. So basically, we help you find the people that you couldn't reach before. For instance, for people who like music, we make it more efficient to find that out because we're buying keywords that no one else is buying. And we enable your real-time reach out.

Can you drill down on what the target market is, and maybe even what type of campaign is best for a Taykey solution?

We definitely work mostly with agencies and big brands right now including CPC, CPM, and some CPA campaigns. We do DR for big brands, rather than smaller brands. Because bigger brands tend to know the concept when you set up a paid campaign, they tell us who their audience is and we just find them. The smaller brands, or smaller DR campaigns, usually don't have an audience. They just want to sell. We work in terms of an audience, and the client wants to reach this audience.

It could be a vendor event, and you want to find people. For example, you could do [promotion] around the Oscars.  We will find the best events to put you next to. Trends are event‑driven. Trends are things that happen. A company is launching a new film - it's an event. Everything is an event in life, and you need to find how to reach audience through events in real time and leverage them.

Is there a local opportunity?

With a lot of brands, we do local campaigns because our trends in New York can be different than trends in Atlanta, so our system is inherently working locally. So we are outfitted for events, big and small. If you look at the small events, it will be different locally.

One of the ironies here appears to be that you're doing audience‑based buying for your clients, and yet you're buying contextually through trends. Can you talk a bit more about how that comes together?

Sure. Our technology is about finding the event or the trend of interest for your audience that will leverage other technologies, and those technologies are contextually‑based. If we want to buy people who are into music and something happened with Justin Bieber, we can go and buy ads and articles about Justin Bieber, which are contextually‑based. But we made the correlation that Justin Bieber is right now a good fit for brand X, Y, or Z. That's the bridge.

In terms of real‑time bidding and display ad exchanges, how is it a part of your business?

We are doing Facebook, Google Search, Google Display Network, and we're doing Twitter Promoted Tweets. For us, real‑time is the medium. So if something happened, we will go and buy it on Google because people will start congregating and searching for it. And you want to be in front of those people. For example, we'll go to the Google Display Network because people are going to read about it in different blogs and articles. On YouTube, people are going to watch those videos. We're going to buy Promoted Tweets because people are going to start Tweeting about it. We will go to Facebook and buy people who “Like” it or mention it. For us, it's real‑time as a medium, and we will help you reach in real‑time to people. This year, we'll continue evolving to even more publishers.

Within the auction of a display ad exchange, do you think there's an opportunity there for Taykey?

We don't have to use a cookie. We're trying to do what we do well before we expand to more places.

What do you think of display ad retargeting as a tactic?

Personally, I have a problem with it – if I looked at a couch, I don't need this couch following me around [the Web]. It's the antithesis of what we do: if you have an interest in something, we'll give you a [relevant] ad next to it. We won’t find something that you might like and then hunt you down. Advertising should be a medium of information, and when something hunts you down, it's not a medium of information. Advertising can be useful if you get relevant ads.

What do you think the impact of the Facebook IPO will be on your business and that of your competitors?

The IPO means that Facebook will be more focused on generating revenues. Facebook will become more receptive to working with more clients. There will be more competition because it'll open up more APIs, similar to what happened to Google and the opening of APIs in order to work with more people. It’s good for everyone because Facebook will also work better with existing partners to help generate more revenues - because ultimately Facebook just wants to make more revenues.

What would you like from Facebook from an ad technology point of view that you don't have right now?

I would love to have more real‑time abilities. We're very real‑time. We're buying stuff fast, and optimizing stuff fast - not just Facebook. Every ad company we work with is usually not fast enough to help, so we need to figure out intelligent ways to get reports in real time, which is not easy. I would love to have everything in the world a bit more real‑time and instantaneous.

Can you talk a bit about how Taykey is growing?

The Company is 35 people right now. We have an R&D office in Israel with 25 engineers, and we have an office in New York with 10 people in sales and client services. And we're growing both offices and planning to expand this year including adding local offices on the West Coast - and then internationally later on, we'll see. In October, we hired our VP of Sales from Federated Media, John Schneider, and our sales and client services teams are growing.

So 12 to 18 months from now, what do you think in terms of milestones? What would you like to have accomplished in that time?

Ideally, we'll be bigger and have more local offices. Everything in the process will be smoother.

I want everything to be more robust - the more clients we have, the more data points we have of what they want.

And growth internationally and in the U.S.?

Growth is mostly in the U.S. right now. We are running campaigns right now in different countries, but mostly for English‑speaking countries that we can do from here. It's [a question of] growing pains for a company that has 30 people. Trying to do international is a bit too much right now.

By John Ebbert

Follow Amit Avner (@AmitAvner), Taykey (@taykey) and AdExchanger.com (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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