AdExchanger.com: What are the challenges that the MediaBank CEO role presents that you wouldn’t find in the startup world or elsewhere?
With most startups, you’re enabling new opportunity or concept in a new environment. With MediaBank, the model is a little different. Media management systems (“advertising operating systems”) have been around for decades; it’s the problem of managing media across such a wide array of touchpoints that’s new. It’s because MediaBank works in such a well-established arena that we’ve been able to have so much impact, so quickly. We’re a 6-year-old company that already touches about 30% of the available US ad market—in terms of spend, very few startups that I know can match that kind of scale– while we don’t disclose it, we manage tens and tens of BILLIONS in spend. The idea of applying my digital background to the entire advertising landscape of TV broadcast, print, spot, radio, outdoor, barter, etc is incredibly exciting.
When do you start? Where will you be “stationed” and why?
MediaBank has offices in Chicago, New York City, Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, and Louisville, Kentucky; I’ll be spending a great deal of time in all of them. We want to shift our customer-facing sales, marketing and professional services offerings towards Madison Avenue—so I’ll be spending a lot of my time establishing a larger MediaBank presence in New York and overseas.
What problem is MediaBank solving today?
Advertising today deals with an endless number of touchpoints that interconnect in ways we couldn’t imagine as recently as five years ago. Those changes create enormous challenges in terms of managing data and workflow: if I’m a media buyer, I suddenly need to sync mobile buys with outdoor ads, and search inventory with TV spots. If I’m a vendor, I’m working under ever-greater pressure to generate greater revenue from ads—while buyers are pulled in endless directions toward multiple channels, and potentially away from my inventory.
Everyone needs to work in ways that are more efficient where data can be leveraged seamlessly within existing workflow. Legacy systems were not built for this and thus a lot of data is not actionable within existing systems. Meanwhile, the inefficiencies of actually placing media buys prevent media dollars from flowing into the system at full capacity. MediaBank will attempt to give everyone in the media ecosystem the fullest control possible over media buying and data management; the end result is media buying and selling that’s more efficient and intelligent for both buyers and sellers alike.
What are the connections you see between what a DSP in display advertising does and the tasks MediaBank facilitates? Is MediaBank the DSP future – cross-medium?
The commonality here is managing a very high number of data points to help advertisers and publishers connect on the inventory that’s mutually valuable. The DSPs create those opportunities—and enable highly efficient marketplaces—in the digital advertising environment. We want to enable those opportunities across all media. So, yeah… I guess you can say we are a cross-medium DSP with a bunch more zeros at the end…
What are your thoughts about driving better attribution models for marketers? Can it be done cross-channels – digital and traditional?
I fundamentally believe marketing should be a cost of good sold, and not purely an operating expense. Cross-channel attribution is an incredibly complex puzzle to solve for, but few companies have access to the holistic spend data across every medium that flows through our system. The idea of having a common token to attribute sales and inventory back to source medium holistically is certainly a game changer; and would enable CMO’s with full P&L accountability with direct control and influence over operating margin and profit… I get goose bumps just thinking about it!
Can today’s media agency model be saved?
Yes, but it goes back to the attribution questions you asked above coupled with workflow efficiencies, successfully leveraging data and insights, and the ability to embrace technology. Today’s agency is a collection of talent and expertise across an enormous array of disciplines, trying to push a consistent advertiser message for their clients, under a holistic budget, out to a dizzying number of channels at one time. In that kind of environment, even minor problems of interaction between the moving parts can have very serious ripple effects. The only way to work effectively is by the cross-channel management we just discussed, coupled with common workflow and data practices. MediaBank is committed to helping ad agencies evolve in this ever-changing marketplace.
What surprises you about display advertising today?
First, its amazing how digital marketing, for the most part, continues to be managed as a silo from the more traditional marketing channels. It’s also surprising how difficult it is to tie digital advertising data back to other marketing channels, and vice versa—even at this late stage in the digital advertising game. I can serve a behaviorally-targeted display creative based on real-time interactions with my website—which is fantastic; but I can’t easily serve a display ad based on a TV spot a user watched. That lack of shared data places enormous amounts of inefficiencies into the ecosystem, which is unfortunate, yet an opportunity.
What are some key learnings from your Yahoo!/Right Media Exchange experience that you will bring to MediaBank?
The biggest takeaway for me is that, in any media buying system, you need to get everyone involved—the advertisers and the publishers equally. The best systems come about by addressing both the supply-side and the demand-side needs within a vibrant marketplace. The other key learning is that opportunity lies at every touch point and data point; it’s just a matter of figuring out how to leverage that opportunity. At Right Media, the ‘found’ opportunity was the real value in remnant inventory and ways to use data, targeting and technology to increase yield for publishers while ALSO managing ROI for advertisers. But the concept is untapped value is universal—in MediaBank’s case, the untapped value is media processing data that becomes the groundwork for media business intelligence. And finally, it’s about the people. Smart, dedicated people are what transformed Right Media from a great idea into a great company, and it’s the same caliber of people that makes me both extremely excited and extremely honored to be here at MediaBank.