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State Of Varick Media: Selling RTB Inside The Holding Company And Out

Varick Media ManagementPaul Rostkowski is President at Varick Media Management, an agency trading desk and part of agency holding company MDC Partners. As part of AdExchanger's "State of" series, we spoke to Rostkowski last week about the state of Varick Media and industry trends.

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AdExchanger: Do you consider Varick Media Management an Agency Trading Desk?

PAUL ROSTKOWSKI: I consider us to be an agency trading desk (ATD), but different than the bigger holding company ATDs. We have both an internal and external focus when it comes to our client base. Most of the bigger holding companies are focusing primarily internally with their solutions.

In fact, we consider ourselves to be more of a vendor, and not an ad agency at all. We've built a data management platform (see the release), we'll be building other technologies – we provide innovation as vendors do and hire a whole bunch of smart, costly people to find, source and optimize media across various channels; mobile, video, display, and even search for our clients.

Who is your target client and how does it relate to your competitive set?

Most of the brands that work with the big holding companies today, the AT&Ts of the world, we don't even put them on our radar. We know they're very close with the [holding company] trading desk solutions. I made a media plan for an agency of the holding companies recently -- a big digital agency here in New York. When the news reached the holding company's trading desk that we were on that plan, they had us taken off of it. But, we were bought as a vendor on that plan as any other digital solution or publisher/ad network would have been.

At [parent holding company] MDC Partners, there are no mandates in place. MDC does not require the agencies within MDC's network to use us. They asked to talk to us and understand what we do, but there's nothing in place around a mandate. We have to earn everything that we do and keep it when we do win business by providing great outcomes to our clients.


State Of AudienceScience: CEO Pullen On Target Market And Future Plans

State of AudienceScienceJeff Pullen is CEO of AudienceScience, an online ad technology platform company. The company has been relatively quiet in the past year as the company has transitioned from the stewardship of former CEO Jeff Hirsch to the current CEO Jeff Pullen. And today, the company announced the hiring of former MediaMath Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) Mike Peralta to become AudienceScience's new President. Read the release.

As part of AdExchanger's "State of" series, we spoke to Pullen last week about the state of AudienceScience and industry trends.

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AdExchanger: In terms of AudienceScience’s target market today, what is more important - the direct marketer or agency business? And then, how do you manage the relationship with the agency when you're going direct to the marketer?

That's certainly a real issue in some cases, but at the end of the day, whether it's an agency or a technology company, we're both in it to bring value to the advertiser, and make the advertiser more effective. We work cooperatively with the agencies. Sometimes, it's more challenging than others, but in the long run, we feel very strongly that we can coexist with agencies. They have their own particular value proposition and relationship with the brand advertisers, and we think we bring a lot of value as well.

Depending on the nature of the advertiser, and what their objectives are, and how they want to approach the market, that dictates the relationship with the agency itself. We definitely work with agencies, and are happy to work with them if that is what the advertiser wants.

Does AudienceScience still maintain a publisher ad network, and if so why is that important?

Yes, we still have a publisher network. Our publisher network is not what I would call in a sell-side platform (SSP) format. We don't have a technology platform that is built around optimization and yield management capabilities, that some of your traditional SSPs have, but the ad network itself allows us to execute campaigns on behalf of advertisers or agencies. It's critical to our learning of how the market works, and how the bidding effectiveness is, and the value propositions. It's a core component.

The original concept of our own ad network or our own publisher relationships was that we had a lot of large publishers who were using our technology for their own account, paying us directly for the utilization of our technology.


State Of Atlas: Understanding Audiences And Programmatic Buying Is 'Paramount' Says Microsoft's Ramsey

Atlas SolutionsJason Ramsey is Director of Program Management at Microsoft and helps guide the ongoing development of Microsoft's advertiser-side ad serving technology known as Atlas. Ramsey helped drive development at Atlas prior to Microsoft's acquisition of aQuantive in May 2007.

As part of AdExchanger's "State of" series, we spoke to Ramsey last Monday about the state of Microsoft Atlas ad serving and industry trends.

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From your Atlas perspective, what are some of the major trends you've had your eye on recently?

JR: The major trends that I've seen in the last few years – since the end of the period when Atlas was part of aQuantive - are programmatic media and the increasing amount of inventory that's available via that mechanism both in display and, increasingly, in mobile and other channels. The complexity that creates for Atlas customers is something we're focused on through partnerships in our Atlas Technology Partnership Alliance (ATPA). We have deals with several DSPs. We're working to ensure that the integrations and partnerships are successful for our customers.

The other big trend is audience [buying] which was initially done through context. In other words, you would look at publisher‑side context and then get an audience composition indexed against who you thought was there. Now you are able to go after audiences directly.

In Atlas, we've addressed this by building out audience management tools. We released a first new version of that back in November, and we'll continue to iterate on that.

Then, putting these two trends together - audiences and programmatic – our customers' need to understand and measure across all of those things is paramount. That's been the goal of ad servers from the beginning - help advertiser marketer customers understand exactly what their media dollars are doing, how their spend is being executed and translate it into performance.


The State Of AdKeeper: Adding Pinterest, Commerce Says CEO Kurnit And Prez Bekkedahl

AdKeeper says it isn't doing the proverbial pivot. In fact, it's "keeping" the foot on the gas with a growing product line, said CEO Scott Kurnit and company President MaryAnn Bekkedhahl in an interview last week with AdExchanger.

In early 2011, AdKeeper raised $35 million to support its offering of allowing consumers to "keep" online ads. Since that time, the company has learned a few things and is rolling out a strategy it says targets the entire purchase funnel.

In addition to making the "Keep" self-service, the company is looking to leverage Pinterest, organize ecommerce newsletters in your inbox, and launch a social commerce destination site. All of this is to be supported by a new holding company, Keep Holdings.

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AdExchanger: Has the mission of the company changed?

SCOTT KURNIT: No. The mission has always been to help consumers and brands better engage with each other. The mission hasn't changed one bit. We saw and continue to see an opportunity such that ads should be better and keep-able.

We also see opportunity with email marketing. It's a huge business that's never been unleashed out of the mailbox. Then, number three is we see an opportunity in social commerce, which hasn't been figured out. If you take a look at the dozen social commerce players that are out there and get talked about, no one has it right.

MARYANN BEKKEDAHL: We said we were going to start with letting consumers' time shift advertising. One way to get them to hold onto the brands of interest and be in control is to time shift ads down the funnel to purchasing and ongoing relationships.


State Of HubSpot: CEO Halligan Eyes The Marketing OS With His Company's Platform

HubSpotBrian Halligan is CEO of HubSpot, a marketing software company.

His company has grown from generating leads exclusively for small business to embracing the same opportunity for mid-size companies. Halligan discussed his company's quest to create a marketing OS as well as recent company developments with AdExchanger.

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AdExchanger: In your 2009 interview with AdExchanger, HubSpot was positioned around the SMB and social marketing. How has your company’s positioning evolved?

BH: There have been a couple things that have evolved for HubSpot over time. When we first came into the market, we were focused on small businesses. We called the persona "Owner Ollie." He runs a small company, does a little marketing himself on the side. Typically it's a business with 20 or less employees. Over time, we were selling to Owner Ollie, but we've moved up a bit. There's another persona we've developed called "Mary Marketer." Mary Marketer runs a marketing department in a mid‑sized company between 20 employees and 1,000 employees. When we spoke a few years ago, we maybe had 80 percent of our business in Owner Ollie, and 20 percent in Mary Marketer. Today I would probably say it's 80 percent in Mary, 20 percent in Ollie.

Do you describe what HubSpot does as marketing automation?

A couple of thoughts on that. My first thought is that the last thing companies should do today is automate their marketing. There's been a big change in the way we all live, shop, learn and spend our daily lives. I think about my dad, and the way he lived, shopped and learned. He had six TV stations, and two newspapers, and a bunch of mail and phone calls. Then I think of myself, and I have six thousand TV stations, a people I follow on Twitter, a lot of people on Facebook - just a radical, radical change in the way I consume information and learn.


State Of Undertone: CEO Cassidy Discusses Serving The Agency And His Company's Strategic Shift

State of UndertoneMike Cassidy is CEO of Undertone, an advertising technology and services company.

Cassidy recently spoke to AdExchanger about his company and industry trends.

Click below or scroll for more: People think of Undertone as an ad network. Do you?

MC: I used to, but no longer.

When you ask people in the market, especially agencies or publishers, to define an ad network, I typically hear things like, "Low quality inventory, banner ads, below-the-fold ads, lack of ethics," etc.  You'll hear things about data and targeting, too –some of it is good. And, you'll hear about scale and optimization. But when you look at the definition of an ad network, and then what Undertone does, there's a clear difference.

We've had many clients tell us that they work with Undertone because we’ve built out a portfolio of publishers, which is not through exchanges, portals, and through buying ads from other people. They're hand‑selected. They're curated.

And, [agencies use our] proprietary tools and third-party research, which helps them leverage their own capabilities. We’re innovating with products and doing a lot around data, and targeting, too. We think about it not just from our standpoint, but a brand standpoint, and how can you take a science and apply it to the art.

When I look at all of those things, our business is evolving, and the network definition feels limiting.


State Of BlueKai: CEO Tawakol On DMP And Exchange Strategies, Data Disruption, More

State of BlueKaiOmar Tawakol is CEO of BlueKai, an ad technology company.

As part of its "State of..." series of articles with industry executives, spoke with Tawakol late last month to discuss his company, his views on the space, and the state of BlueKai today.

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AdExchanger: What are some of the differences between the BlueKai of today and a year ago?

OT: So, early on in our evolution as a business, we were helping the media ecosystem get access to good data so that they could start doing audience targeting. It was all about access to data assets that they didn't have before. Over the last year, what we've noticed is that people have become more mature. They started getting access to different data assets and the focus shifted towards, "Give me a platform that would allow me to create my own proprietary advantage. Let me get my own first‑party data, figure it out, layer on external assets I don't have, and then make it incredibly useful ‑ drive ROI, make it actionable, integrate it in every platform I need to execute on."

So that's the major shift. The data buyers expanded their scope - from testing and experimenting to, "How do I now create a proprietary advantage?" And the answer has been, "I need my own DMP."

And where has this left the exchange strategy which I think BlueKai was initially known for?

It’s been very interesting. What we've noticed is that people who have DMPs end up buying more data. So it's very helpful to the exchange business. However, we run the two businesses entirely separately ‑‑ meaning, if you buy our DMP, you don't have to buy a single bit of data from us. And anything that goes in your DMP stays in the DMP, meaning it's only one‑way access. Data from the exchange makes it into the DMP. Data from the DMP never touches the exchange. They're run, sold and priced separately. The digital data rights and contracts are separate.

I would almost think of this as similar to Android. Android has an app store, and many more people want [to work with] the Android platform than Blackberry. It’s an open platform. Platform marketplace combo business models are very powerful.


State Of DoubleVerify: CEO Netzer On Ad Verification Today; Pre-Bid Integration And Momentum

State of DoubleVerifyOren Netzer is CEO of DoubleVerify, an ad verification company.

As part of its "State of..." series of articles with industry executives, spoke with Netzer last month to discuss his company, his views on the space, and the state of DoubleVerify today.

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AdExchanger: Do you think of yourselves as an ad verification company today?

ON: We've been expanding in a lot of different directions and some things have moved into the market already. We see ourselves as much more than just ad verification and think we'll have an opportunity to play a prominent role on the buy side -and we’re evolving into more measurement. There's beginning to be a separation between the delivery layer, the ad server layer and the measurement layer [whereas] they used to be one thing.

Now that the IAB ad verification guidelines have been completed, companies, including ourselves, are in the process of getting accredited by the Media Ratings Council (MRC). What many in the industry are waiting for is that acceptance of verification - MRC accredited - as the new measurement standard for their campaigns. This will begin the evolution of verification to measurement. Already, verification numbers are becoming the standard for campaign billing and it is in a position to do more.

Regarding the measurement side, we've been beta testing with clients for the past few weeks on engagement and viewability. We have had some key clients running in beta for the last few weeks and it’s going to be rolled out soon - all through that one, same tag that we have.


State Of PubMatic: CEO Goel On Apps, Impact of Google-Admeld And Milestones Ahead

State of PubMaticCEO Rajeev Goel is CEO of PubMatic, a sell-side platform.

As part of its "State of..." series of articles with industry executives, spoke with Goel to discuss his company, his views on the space, and the state of PubMatic today.

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What effect has Google’s acquisition of Admeld had on the marketplace and PubMatic?

First, clearly the media and technology market is consolidating and a number of big deals have happened - Admeld as you mentioned, but also deals for companies such as Efficient Frontier, Auditude and Amobee most recently.

We see our role within that as being a platform for consolidation ourselves and simplifying the lives of publishers by bringing them multiple solutions, whether they're developed in-house or through a third party, across our platform for publishers. More specifically, in terms of what we are seeing since the Google and Admeld transaction, the fact that we are both open and neutral is leading us to take share because publishers see us as the independent leader and alternative to a Google-only strategy.

I think that stems from a couple of things. One is we're fully aligned with the interests of the publishers. We have no competing business. We have no conflicts of interest, and obviously, it's an interdependent ecosystem. We try to work with everyone and we work with Google within that ecosystem. We've had three record quarters in a row from a growth perspective - and within that sequential quarter on quarter growth.


The State Of RadiumOne: CEO Chahal Says Company Building Signal, Targeting Social Ads On Open Web

State of RadiumOneGurbaksh Chahal is CEO of RadiumOne, an online advertising technology company with a real-time social ad platform.

As part of its "State of..." series of articles with industry executives, spoke with Chahal to discuss his company, his views on the space, and the state of RadiumOne today.

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AdExchanger: Regarding the TechCrunch rumor about the valuation of RadiumOne ($500 million) and that you’re raising a round of investment. Anything you can share? Were those numbers correct?

GC: When it comes to things like that, time will dictate the outcomes. We don't have an official statement right now. We are of interest to a lot of people who think that we're doing something interesting. And things like this happen all the time.

Let’s talk about the strategy around the products that you've created thus far and how they relate to ads?

Sure. We launched in October of 2010 with the initiative of social retargeting and had a typical ad network strategy, which leveraged other people's data. Then, we asked how can we control and generate it for our own product. So, the first part of business was called ShareGraph, which was sharing activity on a third‑party basis that we can anonymize - and figure out who's sharing with whom, and make those connections. That was the proprietary technology that started the business.

Then, we looked at going ahead and generating this data on our own. The first product that we launched to focus on that was, which was similar to ShareThis and Add This, but it allows publishers to generate revenue from the sharing activity that's going on on their websites. In turn, it gives us direct first‑party relationship data with the publisher. And that's grown tremendously - faster than I even expected.

And a sub-product of was, which is similar to in that you can shorten the length of a URL, but as soon as you shorten the length, it creates an audience segment for an advertiser.

The last piece that we just rolled out is, which we think reflects what’s happening with the digital landscape today. Since 2007, nothing has evolved with retargeting and audience buying except the power went from the ad networks to the DSP (demand-side platform). And the DSP's sole business has been, "How do I become a cheaper way to do the same thing?"