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The State Of Rocket Fuel: CEO John Sees Impressive, Real-Time Bidding Impact

State of Rocket FuelGeorge John is CEO of Rocket Fuel, an online advertising technology company.

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

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AdExchanger: Are you seeing the impact you originally anticipated with real-time bidding (RTB) for PC‑based display?

GJ: It’s much better than I thought. If you consider the layers of sophistication around leveraging exchanges and liquid inventory, where "1.0" was the original Right Media Exchange, and you'd log in and define your targeting rules and your bids, then "2.0" was real-time bidding - but it doesn't add anything to that style of buying.

And, if you thought in terms of rules like "I love this BlueKai segment so I want to pay $3.50 CPM whenever I see someone who seems like they want to buy a luxury car," then real-time bidding doesn't add a ton. It lets you build your own computers and manage your own global frequency counts across multiple exchanges and all that. But if you just think in terms of rules, it adds a bit of efficiency, but not that much.

What we've done is plugged into the major [RTB] sources for inventory that give us 10 billion impressions a day and that we evaluate through four data centers across the US and Europe - and we're building out in Asia. Every impression gets fully scored by AI (artificial intelligence) models that predict response. I know everybody says this.

For a while, everybody thought that it's all about just aggregating as much supply of ad space as you can. And then, it was all about getting as much data as you could. When I was at Yahoo, we suffered from this disease of thinking that more is better. In fact, it was the mission statement of the Yahoo data group back in 2005 to 2008, to build the world's largest and most actionable database.

[Former Yahoo! CEO] Terry Semel once asked a good question of the leader of that group. "What's so great about it being big? Most actionable I can understand, but does it have to be big?" We feel that RTB is a critical enabler because only by looking at every impression one at a time can you have an A.I. model saying, "This one gives me the chance of response at 1.03797 percent so I'm going to bid $20 CPM on this one impression."

Before, if you had intelligence, there was no way to express it in the way ad servers and pre‑RTB exchanges worked.


The State of eXelate: CEO Zagorski On The Exchange, maX Data Product And Programmatic Buying Trends

State of eXelateMark Zagorski is CEO of eXelate, a data marketing technology company.

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

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AdExchanger: What's the latest on the eXelate data exchange strategy?

MZ: To put it quite simply, our driver is to help marketers make better digital advertising decisions. And we're doing that through providing unique and proprietary data at scale. The unique data by creating exclusive relationships with offline data partners, online data providers and the proprietary being to create custom modeled datasets so those advertisers can better target audiences based on their specific needs. So the exchange is more or less a means to an end for us and that end is helping advertisers and marketers drive better digital advertising decisions.

Does the exchange model exist today with eXelate?

Yes. The concept of an exchange can be taken in a lot of different ways. We still have a model in which there are buyers and sellers of data. Data, in which we ingest, segment, score and deliver - so that the exchange to which we're connecting can absolutely exist. Where it starts to morph into something different is the concept of creating a private exchange. It's how we connect specific buyers to specific sellers in their own proprietary relationship. And then the concept of not just connecting a buyer and seller of a constructed piece of data, but also taking that data and building something totally new out of it.

So, where an exchange or a marketplace considers the idea of someone bringing a product in and selling it directly to a buyer, we're now moving into a world in which someone brings a product to it.

We sell it to a buyer, but we can also take that product and make something totally new out of it, then sell it to a different buyer and create greater value across the board - both for the people that brought the data to bear, as well as for the buyers themselves.

Looking at it from an industry-wide perspective, what would you say about current momentum in the real-time bidding or programmatic world?


The State Of Krux: CEO Chavez On Apps, Ecosystem And Moving From Defense To Offense

State of Krux DigitalTom Chavez is CEO of Krux, an online advertising technology company.

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

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AdExchanger: From an industry perspective, it seems there's been a lot of churning going on - companies are pivoting, executive shifts. Some companies are getting acquired. What's been your take on this?

TC: What goes the furthest distance towards explaining all of that churn is the simple reality that there are too many hangers‑on trying to skim revenue between advertisers and publishers. This has been talked about for quite some time. What we're starting to see are the early phases of either consolidation or just a general cleaning up in the middle of the Kawaja chart. That's the first thought that comes to mind.

The second thought that comes to mind is that we see a lot of coming and goings in the executive ranks - publishers especially. What goes the farthest distance towards explaining that is that, first, publishers aren't claiming their fair share of the revenue from all of the content and audience experiences that they invest so much to create. In those organizations, you see a shift now to try to right the ship and make some moves to try to fix it. I'm not sure that we see a lot of intentionality or strategy behind that. It's more of a thrash, which is unfortunate for everybody.

But, in some cases, you do start to see the early glimmerings of some media companies now trying to figure out what they have from a competitive perspective, their strongest assets, where they can play in a broader advertising environment that has been overtaken not just by search, but increasingly automated via exchange space methods for display. Here, the elephant in the room is obviously Google. My own two pennies here is that Google has utterly just crushed it in display exchange. They took a $100 million business and have turned it into a multi‑billion dollar business in an astonishingly short period of time, which obviously puts competitive pressure on publishers who are trying to figure out if they want to play in that arena.

Increasingly, I'm not sure that they have a chance. They're trying to hold the line and ring‑fence their direct sale business and claim full value in that sphere but going back to the publisher or media perspective, "What do I have? What is my strongest asset?" You expect me to point out that it's their audience data. It's data that has the possibility, now, of fueling not just advertising experiences but more interesting content, commerce, collaboration, selling and marketing experiences. The acquisition of SAS by aiMatch could be evidence of SAS' interest in advertising, but I really don't think so. We're in an environment now where companies like SAS are looking at ad servers like aiMatch and saying, "You know what? That's an interesting tunnel, an interesting bridge between companies and web experiences with consumers that aren't necessarily tied to ads." The ad server in the new regime becomes what you might think of as an engagement server.


The State Of Evidon: Meyer on Regulation, Extending Into Performance and The Roadmap Ahead

State of EvidonScott Meyer is CEO of Evidon, an online advertising technology company.

As part of its "State of..." series of articles with industry executives, sat down with Meyer to discuss his company, his views on the space, and the state of Evidon today.

Click below or scroll down for more: Where do you think we are with the online ad tech space today, generally speaking?

SCOTT MEYER: There's totally an inflection point. I've been at this a long time and I think this is the third wave, if you will. There was the first big bubble, and then there was the second one, and you can see that we're reaching another crescendo. The apex of it is still a year to 18 months away. What you're starting to see now is a pattern that has repeated itself in the past, and it will become apparent this year, which is the separation of the great from the merely good.

You're going to start to see companies that are accelerating. And as we've seen, the creation of RTB technology shows how easy it is to get into the market now with the readily available, venture capital.

So, in each category you're going to see who the market leaders are. The other ones are not going to fade away, but they'll consolidate.  That's the big picture thing that I see going on.

What keeps Evidon safe from a world of commoditizing technology?

In order to be the company that we are - doing compliance and transparency - it's very hard to be credible unless you're very cautious to never be seen as going into competition with your clients, right?

That's why we never trade in any form of media or data. We just don't. We've been around for more than two years, and everyone has seen that being a technology platform for compliance and transparency is a great business. No one's worrying anymore about, "Oh, what's the Evidon pivot? What day are they going to show up and say, ‘We're now the Evidon ad network? Thanks for trusting me with all your data.’" Frankly, that was written into our contracts with all of our clients from the beginning and was never an issue.


The State Of Datalogix: CEO Roza On Point-Of-Sale Data, Attribution And The Data Services Layer

State of DatalogixEric Roza is CEO of Datalogix, a company which focuses on integrating database marketing and digital media.

As part of its "State of..." series of articles with industry executives, sat down with Roza to discuss his company, his views on the space, and the state of Datalogix today.

Click below or scroll down for more: There appears to be some consolidation momentum in the ad tech ecosystem. How is it impacting DataLogix?

ER: In terms of impact on Datalogix, to date, I would say "nothing material." The only thing that's important for us, and for others in the ecosystem, is that you have to maintain flexibility in your thinking, as well as be comfortable living in an era of ambiguity. For us, it's about thinking and keeping the end customers in mind. Clearly, the clients and the agencies are funding the ecosystem here.

If you think about what's going to be in the clients' best interest, you'll ultimately succeed, but there may be hops that no one expects along the way. Things will probably move more slowly than anybody expects, too. Those seem to be a couple of the things you can absolutely be certain of.

Thinking about your NextAction days, which weren't so long ago (PDF, 2009), can you talk a bit about some of the biggest changes since that time at Datalogix?


State Of CEO Leathern On Social, Data‑Driven Media Buying And Strategy Ahead

Rob Leathern is CEO of, an online media buying platform technology and tools company.

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

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What is different about the targeting data that's available through Facebook versus anywhere else?

There are two things that are important. One is that it’s the most robust and largest source of self‑reported demographic data available anywhere in the world. No one else is even half the size of Facebook in terms of the amount of data. You can do demographic targeting on a variety of other large portals, or use data from third‑party vendors, but the quality of the data is low and you're never going to get more than about 40 percent of the online audience. Whereas with Facebook, they reach 165 million people in the US monthly, and they have age and gender information on 95 percent of them.

The second thing is for brands. Facebook has this ability to target people by affinity: brand affinity, affinity of products, affinity to causes and more. The more that companies are spending time creating and driving customers to “like” them, the more targeting data is becoming available on this platform.

Hopefully, in the future, this data will be, targeted by marketers outside of the walls of Facebook in a privacy‑sensitive way since the walls between Facebook and websites have continued getting lower.

Why is it that advertising works on Facebook without first‑party cookies?


State Of Metamarkets: CEO Soloff On Addressing Marketers And Publishers, Predictive Analytics And Media

MetamarketsDavid Soloff is CEO of Metamarkets, an analytics technology company.

As part of its "State of..." series of articles with industry executives, sat down with Soloff to discuss his company, his views on the space, and the state of Metamarkets today.

Click below or scroll down for more: Can you talk a little bit about your company’s process around product development?

DS: Anybody who aspires to build a new technology product needs a set of development partners to do it with and for. That doesn't mean engineers that you hire. It means customers, or prospective customers, who believe enough in your team that they're willing to “throw in” and spend hours on the phone or in meetings with you reviewing what you've built. They're willing to spend precious engineering resources on their side - in our case - to get you the data feeds and figure out how to format that data. Then, they're willing to put their confidence in you such that the product you're delivering back is reliable and customers begin to bet parts of their business on it. At the risk of saying the dreaded "E" word, it's about as close to an enterprise as you can get. The datasets are huge and you have to enter into this iterative development cycle. I don't care who you are, it's going to take months, if not longer, to get something to the point where customers say, "You know what? This really rocks and we're happy to pay you for it."

What is the proposition Metamarkets has made with its clients to get clients to buy into this process?


The State Of ClearSaleing: Prez Smith On Positioning, Ebay Integration And Audience Attribution

ClearSaleingRandy Smith is President of ClearSaleing, an advertising analytics and attribution management platform company.

As part of its "State of..." series of articles with industry executives, sat down with Smith to discuss his company, his views on the space, and the state of ClearSaleing today.

Click below or scroll down for more: What would you say has changed at ClearSaleing since you were acquired by eBay?

RS: There's an after‑transition effect. For example, Adam Goldberg has left ClearSaleing and is off with his next entrepreneurial opportunity. We're going through that normal transition that you do. The good news is that with Ebay’s GSI acquisition in January, we have been able to maintain our  autonomy and move forward with our current business plan. We also get access to the GSI customer base as well as some of the cool things that eBay is doing. Finally, eBay will be a customer of ours and we’ll be working with them on some of their strategic initiatives.

It's the best of all worlds for us. We now have this whole community of customer, financial and technological access that as a standalone company, we just didn't have before. When eBay decides to go, they go in a big way and commit.

What would you say is the new type of client opportunity that's opened up?

No clients from eBay yet, but as I mentioned, we are working with eBay and they would have been a huge target. Nevertheless, we're continuing to grow and have over 200 advertisers on the platform now. About 70 percent of those customers come through indirect relationships, partnerships with agencies. True Action, our internal agency, is one of those, but it's OMD, iProspect, Rosetta and several others that we work with as well.


The State Of VivaKi Nerve Center: CEO Hecht On Audience On Demand, Programmatic Buying And Trends

Curt Hecht is CEO of VivaKi Nerve Center, part of agency holding company Publicis.

As part of its "State of..." series of articles with industry executives, sat down with Hecht to discuss the Nerve Center, his views on the space, and the state of VivaKi Nerve Center today.

Click below or scroll down for more: A year ago, I asked you in an interview: “It's been suggested that a billion dollars of ad spend will be running through Google from Publicis next year. If true, how much of this will be audience‑driven display?”

And you responded, "That all depends on Google's ability to innovate. It could be five percent of that, it could be 15 percent of that figure, but the key is no obligations." This is in reference to the deal between Google/Publicis that was announced at that time.

Any updates to the answer to that question?

CH: Well, it's hard for me to quote exact numbers because there's sensitivity around it. But, what I would say is that our fastest‑growing line of business with Google right now is through the exchange.  Granted, it's not the biggest space.

I was with [Google exec Nikesh Arora] and [Publicis CEO Maurice Levy] last week. The two areas that Nikesh particularly pointed out in terms of the collaboration between Google and Publicis Groupe, was what we've been doing in the addressable space since 2008 and the collaboration between Susan Wojcicki and Neil Mohan and that extended team - and how we grow together.

It pulls through in the numbers, in terms of our overall growth, because we're connected on product, delivery and execution - which is great. That's why I'm out there in a week - to road‑map, update the conversation and plan for next year.

What I'll also say around that is, Right Media Exchange still has the largest share. In a bidded marketplace, we're going to follow performance, so we're growing overall for sure.

Google's seeing a lot of that growth. The conversation is more, for us, around the technology and... Listen, we have a very simple philosophy which is no different than our philosophy in any other medium, which is, we as an agency should go direct to supply.

There's no reason for there to be any intermediaries that sit in that space, unless they can bring something of value. The latest numbers I've seen is that around 75 percent of the supply, at least in the display space and taking Facebook out of that for a second, most of that supply is with Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google because AOL is a closed marketplace, for the most part.

We should go direct to that supply. The tools are available. We definitely have the people that know how to do that, and that's what's driving the growth. It's the acknowledgement that we don't need intermediaries to add value there, because we can add it on our own.

That shows up in the numbers and that has been our big growth area with Google. In terms of the billion dollar number, without giving that away, I feel very good about that statement.


The State Of MediaMath: CEO Zawadzki On Strategy Ahead, Marketers And "Premium-Ness"

MediaMathJoe Zawadzki is CEO of MediaMath, a demand-side platform technology company.

As part of its "State of..." series of articles with industry executives, sat down with Zawadzki to discuss his company, his views on the space, and the state of MediaMath today.

Click below or scroll down for more: What's your overall take on recent M&A?

JZ: I think the market has reached a crescendo. Like every market, there are some natural periods of expansion and consolidation. People are now starting to see the complexity out there and some of the smaller, independent companies might be thinking that market forces are asking them to either be platforms and aggregators, or be aggregated.

There are too many places to spend dollars and too many sales folks showing up in agencies for us to credibly vet all of them. Buyers are saying, "I want to double down on the bets with those that I trust and work with. I expect them to close the gap on feature sets with new innovations."

Meanwhile, smaller companies are wondering, "Hey, am I a company or am I a feature?" The more people that do that, the more M&A activity there is.

So, what would you say about the transformation of MediaMath in the past year?

Business has been moving forward on all fronts. People‑wise, we're up to 150 now. One big change in the past year has been in our geographic scope. We have offices in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and L.A. Two of MediaMath's co‑founders started up the London office in February, and now there are 11 people and "north" of a couple million dollars in spending per month in Europe.