Podcast: Let's Get Vertical

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Life finds a way,” in the immortal words of Dr. Ian Malcolm.

And so does ad tech, when confronted with adversity. Today’s extinction-level meteorites are taking the form of platform dominance, reduced data availability and a lack of differentiation among the available “solutions.” So where’s the salvation?

Audience Town CEO Ed Carey believes a new wave of ad tech can succeed by focusing on the needs of industry verticals, be it pharma, auto, finance or – in the case of his own company – real estate.

Before listening to this episode, check out Carey’s recent AdExchanger column about the opportunity for ad tech companies to specialize.

The episode starts with a history lesson. When the first wave of horizontal programmatic platforms emerged, Carey recalls, “So much computer processing and real-time auctioning was required, so much capital was required, that these companies got big.” Thus were born the scaled DSP and SSP platforms that we know today, which aim to appeal to as wide a swath of marketers as possible.

“Paradoxically, in the arms race to build horizontal businesses for real-time, one-to-one personalization at scale, something got lost,” he continues. “Despite all of this scale, a lot of the bidding and auctioning was really not very personalized looking at all. The bid prices were the same across a lot of the platform at a given time. If this was all about personalization, why are we getting billions of dollar bids from thousands of different advertisers toward millions of people?”

As a result, the marketing team for a hospital network might use the same algorithms and bid strategies as a large CPG.

Carey remembers thinking, “Wow, if you can actually deliver value through some kind of industry-specific ad tech solution, there’s probably a good business there. Having wanted to start a business for some time, I was on the hunt for what would be a good vertical to go after.”

So he embarked on a new venture focused on real estate.

“All industries have a lot of data. I discovered that real estate was a huge data industry,” he says.” And a lot of the data is public or opted in. Municipal data about the house that you own or the apartment that you rent, transaction data, deed data, customer data. None of it was online for the purposes of marketing and advertising.”

Listen to the whole episode for more on Ed’s experience, as well as an answer to the question, why is now the right time for verticalization?

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