Jay Stevens Leaps To Adform From Rubicon Project

Jay-Stevens-AdformJay Stevens has joined Adform as chief revenue officer.

The company created the role because it needed someone to manage the business and control country-specific P&Ls as Adform expands geographically into new markets. He started Monday.

Stevens made the switch to the decade-old ad tech company, founded in Denmark, a few months after departing Rubicon Project. There, he held a somewhat similar role. As general manager of its international business, he oversaw P&Ls across markets in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

He brought with him another Rubicon-er, Oliver Whitten, who is joining the 700-person company as chief operating officer. Stevens talked with AdExchanger about how he’s plotting out Adform’s expansion into new markets.

AdExchanger: Why make this move now?

JAY STEVENS: I was drawn to Adform largely due to the sophistication of the product. Adform started out as a buy-side ad server but rapidly expanded the suite of products in the portfolio. It’s done an amazing job of building out a full-stack solution that is on par with AppNexus and other solutions that are truly full-stack. Half of Adform’s 700 employees are code-committing engineers. When you have that kind of horsepower from a development perspective, it means you can be agile and innovate around both sides of the ecosystem and deliver a full stack. That was one reason.

The other?

The other thing that was appealing to me was the fact that – and this is timely given the recent ANA report – the company is 100% transparent in its fee structure, which is critical and drew me philosophically to the business. Each side knows what it’s costing to run campaigns. Adform is full-stack, fully independent, doesn’t have owned-and-operated media properties. And agency holding companies don’t have interest in the business.

The position sounds similar to what you did at Rubicon.

As a business, Adform is well poised for further geographical expansion, which plays to my strengths. At Adform, I will be looking after the overall revenue numbers in each region, so it’s not dissimilar to the role I had at Rubicon Project. The key difference is that it’s still a much more holistic, full-stack solution for the buy side and sell side, whereas at Rubicon it was a full sell-side offering [not including the recent addition of buy-side solution Chango].

What is Adform’s geographical footprint now, and where will it go from there?

It’s in the Nordics, and has expanded out into Germany and Italy. Seeing the success they are having outside their home markets or regions, it speaks volumes in terms of their capability to expand in other parts of the world, like APAC and Latin America. There is tremendous room for further growth in the business.

In Europe, Adform has benefited from buyers’ and sellers’ desire for an alternative to Google. How does that independent messaging play out in other markets?

I think those sentiments aren’t isolated to the European theater. Firsthand, I know there are fears about the strength of Google all over the world. It’s definitely something that is an issue on a global basis. Especially outside of the US, and taking the UK and Australia out of the equation, the rest of the world is extremely nervous about Google.

When will you enter Latin America and APAC?

The timing is to be determined. There is still white space left in Europe that is good opportunity, and expanding into markets where we have a nascent presence or none at all. A year from now, we want a truly global footprint with offices all over the world.

Do you need to expand the nonengineer portion of the business for this geographic growth to happen?

I think that ratio will continue to be at the 50-50 mark. As we continue the geographic expansion, the engineering depth of bench will expand in a similar line. 

How will you address the stickiness issue in getting people to change over to Adform? Products like ad servers and DMPs are difficult to switch out.

There are different sales cycles associated with different products in the suite. The adoption of the DMP is going to be one of the entry points into Adform, because that’s a unique product that we offer. Every DMP should have a DSP attached to it. If you have a good, competitive product, if you are transparent about pricing and provide the level of service required, over time you will win. That has been key to Adform’s success to date, and will contribute to future success.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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