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Podcast: Restoring Trust In Ad Tech


AdExchanger Talks is a podcast focused on data-driven marketing. Subscribe here. This episode of AdExchanger Talks is supported by Tealium.

In the early days of sell-side platforms, publishers who were not 100% reliant on Google for yield optimization almost certainly worked with one of two competitors: Rubicon Project or PubMatic. They were like the Nadal and Federer of the early programmatic arena.

Today on the podcast, PubMatic’s longstanding CEO, Rajeev Goel, talks about the company’s early days and its evolution through waves of technology disruption, competitive threats and shifting auction mechanics.

A Silicon Valley native, Goel launched a startup selling custom-built golf clubs, along with his brother, Amar Goel. Later Amar joined him again in co-founding PubMatic on the premise that digital technology would dramatically transform how ads are bought and sold and that serving the publisher’s interest represented a large opportunity. They are still at it, fighting commoditization by reducing complexity.

“The complexity publishers and marketers go through is mind-boggling: private marketplaces, guaranteed deals, open-market RTB, first-price auctions, second-price auctions, different formats and consumption channels,” Goel says, adding the company’s opportunity is to simplify ad decisioning in an easy-to-understand way for both seller and buyer.

A second priority – and the main theme of this episode – is cultivating trust. Goel acknowledges there has been an ongoing crisis of trust between the buy and sell sides, and he doesn’t think the recent blow-up over bid caching will be the end of it.

“The trust issue is of paramount importance,” Goel says. In the wake of bid caching, “Trust has been damaged or set back, unfortunately. … It gives ammunition to marketers who might be thinking, ‘Well, I knew I couldn’t trust that. I should just go back to buying TV.’”

He adds, “What will help with this is communication, but also putting the incentives in place for buyers to work with trusted parties and reward good behavior.”

Also in this episode: SSPs are consolidating, rising barriers to entry, what marketers want from ad tech.

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