Podcast: The Interesting Career Of Lauren Nemeth

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This week in the podcast studio, Lauren Nemeth tells some rollicking stories from her years in the ad tech trenches at DoubleClick, AppNexus, Turn and other companies. She also discusses her current job as chief revenue officer at Nextdoor, a platform that connects people within communities.

Nemeth begins with an anecdote about her first meeting with Michael Rubenstein 10 years ago. Rubenstein had appeared on stage at the Adtech San Francisco conference to articulate DoubleClick’s vision to stitch together its publisher and advertiser platforms into a unified exchange that would compete with Right Media.

Only about 23 at the time, Nemeth approached Rubenstein afterward and told him the idea would fail unless DoubleClick got buy-in from the industry’s middlemen – i.e. ad networks – that constituted the largest sources of supply and demand in those days.

“To enact so much change in media where people go from faxing IOs and emailing JavaScript tags to actually getting people to use software and data to buy and sell media – it’s such a monumental change,” she recalls. “You’ve got to have people who are willing to be change agents to effect that.”

Impressed, Rubenstein hired Nemeth to focus on the ad network segment, and she relocated to New York for the job. “Month one we signed 50 deals. Month two we signed 100 deals,” she recalls. “Within six months, this intermediary group of businesses ended up being like 90% of the revenue for DoubleClick’s ad exchange.”

Then Google acquired DoubleClick.

“Six months prior to the DoubleClick acquisition, Google didn’t allow any third-party tracking,” she says. “Talk about the walled garden of all walled gardens. Even doing the DoubleClick acquisition and allowing ad tracking, to then … allow people to bring their own data to bear and their own software infrastructures. It was just a really big shift in terms of how they had thought about doing business prior to that. We had to be educators.”

In 2010, she joined AppNexus. She decided to overlook the terrible office and its broken chairs because of the caliber of people.

“That early group of people at AppNexus was a rare blend of young, crazy smart, super super hungry people who just wanted to be change agents,” she says. “Brian [O’Kelley’s] thesis was that Google has something interesting where they sit on both the buy and the sell side. But the Achilles heel of Google is going to be the fact that they’re never open. The whole purpose of AppNexus was to be able to build on top of the platform.”

Also in this episode: Nextdoor’s ad business. The exciting and elusive local market. “There isn’t that much diversity in ad tech today.”

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