Casale Media Staying With Ad Network Model, Maintaining Publisher Relationships Says CEO Joe Casale

Casale MediaJoe Casale is CEO of Casale Media, an online advertising network. How has Casale Media business changed in the past 12-24 months?

JC: Business has grown substantially. We are seeing more demand from big brands that have already taken the plunge into digital. These companies understand that it takes a lot of budget to move the needle on awareness and other traditional indicators via online display. We are also seeing an increase in spend from SMBs who are also recognizing that their audience is online. Our customers are continuing to look for more ways to measure media and interpret results. To meet this need, we launched our Views series of reports designed to show and inform clients about their audience’s response to media in a very visual, understandable format that makes it easy to put insights to work immediately across the
= entire marketing mix.

There is a perception that ad networks are going to die – the proverbial “death of the ad network.” What do you think?

There may be a time of consolidation in the near future to normalize supply and demand in our industry. Publishers and advertisers are increasingly learning that accountability is just as important as performance, so networks focused on delivering quality rather than quantity, are likely to succeed and be around for a long time. One of the biggest problems our space faces is the vast number of ad networks, which makes it difficult to differentiate those that create value from those that simply mark up and re-sell. With DSPs in play, there is a new layer of accountability. Networks that don’t provide value (and performance) beyond what an agency can achieve through a DSP will most certainly die. Conversely, ad networks that do provide value will benefit, as we have experienced.

How does Casale Media differentiate today?

Casale Media has a 30-year track record of providing honest work, delivering the highest quality media, and only partnering with companies that operate by the same values. We have a 98 percent client retention rate and we provide the best media environments for our advertisers through our stringent upfront publisher selection process. Through a mix of technology and people, we review publishers continuously to make certain they are providing legitimate and brand-safe media inventory for advertisers at all times. We invest millions back into the company’s ad serving platform each year to support ongoing research and development that ensures that Casale Media always delivers on our promise of industry-leading technology and results.

Considering that publisher data has been key to driving ad network performance, how do you see this evolving as publisher’s look for solutions to control, manage and monetize their data? Is it really as valuable as publishers think?

Yes, publisher data is valuable, but harnessing that value really comes down to what you do with it. Impressions are valuable too, but that value can be diminished if they aren’t applied optimally. From the perspective of our business, we don’t use or take ownership of our publishers’ data. We are a trusted partner to publishers because we help them maximize the value of their data as they see fit.

Is Casale Media buying from exchanges today? In your opinion, what do they provide? What don’t they provide?

We do not buy from or sell to exchanges. We believe in working direct with all our publishers and advertising clients to maintain complete control and accountability over the end-to-end media workflow – this ultimately delivers higher performance to all while enabling us to guarantee brand safety. Beyond that, we do not see enough quality to make supplementing our inventory through exchanges sensible for us and our partners. With exchanges, we are concerned that no one is accountable for the buy except for the ad buyer. There are risks for advertisers who do not know if it is really safe or if it is 100% guaranteed. What happens if your ad appears on a site that goes against your brand values? Who is responsible? For publishers that sell in an exchange environment, there is no one there looking out for them and allocating value to maximize the opportunity for inventory that deserves it. These publishers end up as part of the commoditized stream.

What’s your view on demand-side platforms (DSPs) and does Casale Media have one?

DSPs have changed the way media is bought through exchanges for the better. However, we are not a DSP, although our capabilities are similar. The main difference between us and a DSP is that our supply is direct and controlled and exclusive to our network, MediaNet.

Have clients requested the use of ad verification technology? Is ad verification tech a boon or a burden to ad networks?

Yes, the request for verification is becoming more common. We consider verification to be a boon. It is only a burden when it falls prey to false positives, which in our experience happens with semi-regularity, creating needless panic. However, we appreciate that it will continue to evolve and become a smoother process. As this maturation occurs, it will surely add a new layer of accountability to the benefit of all.

What are your thoughts on recent video ad network and platform acquisitions by ad networks?

You can buy or you can build. We have always been partial to building our own technology and this is the route we have taken with our forthcoming video delivery/tracking platform, Videobox. Stay tuned as we roll these capabilities out widely in early 2011.

How is your target client market evolving today? Is Casale Media profitable?

Our target clients are getting smarter about how to differentiate between value and waste. They are rewarding vendors (us included) that deliver real value. Measures of performance are getting more advanced to help speed this process along. We have been profitable since the inception of our ad network more than 7 years ago.

Are agency trading desks a threat or a partner for Casale Media and ad networks, in general?

We see agency trading desks as being a future partner to ad networks that provide unique, differentiated and safe media that performs. They will be a threat to networks that source the majority of their impression from a few sources (portals, exchanges, other networks) because agencies no longer require networks to sources inventory from those same sources themselves (i.e. through their trading desk via DSPs).

What’s the plan for Casale Media in the next 1-3 years? And, do you acquire, maintain, look for a possible exit such as an IPO or sell to a larger entity?

We will continue to provide solutions that work, regardless of the future challenges that emerge. We believe that video is going to
dramatically change display over the next few years. We also expect the traditionally simplistic creative executions that have dominated display from the early days will soon meet the same fate as the original banner.

Casale Media has been in business for more than three decades, innovating in interactive marketing every step of the way. The company is a privately held, self-funded and self-sustained business, and we plan to stay that way as we continuously push to redefine the standard for online media quality and ad delivery optimization.

Follow Casale Media (@casalemedia) and (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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