VivaKi Nerve Center CEO Hecht Responds; Discusses Google And Demand-Side Platform Strategy

VivaKiVivaKi Nerve Center CEO Curt Hecht discussed his company’s relationship with Google as well as Publicis/VivaKi’s strategy for pursuing this key relationship as it looks to provide audience-driven buying services to VivaKi member media agencies.

Hecht also addressed a recent TechCrunch report that intimated rebates may be a part of VivaKi’s deal with Google. The suggestion of a recent TechCrunch article was that possible rebates or kickbacks may be taking place between Google and Publicis. Is it?

CH: No.

What IS taking place and why do you think this misconception exists?

Google makes investments in our technology and our people because it helps expand a marketplace that is data-driven and performance-driven. Yes, this is a market in which Google operates, but so do a host of other media owners. Invite Media works across the marketplace, it is a technology that optimizes the entire market. (Yahoo)

I think the misconception exists with people who don’t completely understand the model or the marketplace. In essence, VivaKi is “white-labeling” Google technology to operate Audience On Demand (AOD). We make no apologies—it is the best technology in the industry today.

The VivaKi Nerve Center (VNC) and its investments are focused on expanding our AOD solution across Display, video and mobile ads using our trading desk service model; this represents an industry first, and a huge advantage for our clients.

VivaKi has a very transparent model which is driven by our client teams who always work in the best interest of their clients. To earn client investment, Audience on Demand must beat the ad networks and direct sales channels in a performance and data driven marketplace. Our clients and their teams do not allow for bias.

Clients spend money on Google because Google performs. This is a performance-driven marketplace. If Google campaign results did not meet agreed KPIs, clients would not spend money on it.

Is Invite Media your only demand-side platform vendor? Can you share your plans for DSP vendors?

Invite Media is not the only DSP solution we leverage today, but they are a primary partner of ours. As many in the industry know firsthand, we are very focused on self-service oriented platforms that can support the data and media partnerships we’ve created. And we are very clear about our intention to evolve with the team of experts and active clients that we’ve been steadily building throughout 2010.

We have an extensive set of criteria that we leverage to determine if and how a DSP platform is going to work for our needs or not. We will continuously monitor where the platforms are heading relative to that criteria, and test them appropriately.

How have Publicis agencies made marketers feel more comfortable with demand-side platform strategies? And, how is VivaKi Nerve Center part of this education process?

As is evidenced by much of the reporting in recent days, education is needed because the marketplace is not only new, it is also evolving.

Education and awareness of the agency trading desk platform have been key to driving adoption of Audience On Demand (AOD) across VivaKi’s clients, as well as strong collaboration between the AOD team and agency teams. The AOD team includes dedicated consultants, who are committed to helping our agencies navigate the ever-changing display marketplace and work side-by-side with the agencies to develop campaign strategies that align with the client’s goals and objectives.

Also, education is an ongoing process. The speed at which the audience-driven marketplace is evolving creates a lot of questions, ideas, and confusion.

We have a number of training and education initiatives, primarily because this is still new territory for many people. During the past two years, we’ve conducted numerous client/agency webinars on the display marketplace, AOD and our partners, achievements and roadmaps. Members from the AOD team regularly participate in client and agency meetings to further illuminate the display marketplace and the efficiencies gained through utilizing AOD. In many cases, the AOD team members are seen as independent educators on the display marketplace. We provide case studies to demonstrate AOD in action, and we also produce an internal newsletter called the nerve to spotlight product enhancements, client successes in reaching target audiences, interesting uses of the product and more. It’s a lot of effort and multiple touchpoints because we want our teams and clients to understand the benefits of our trading desk and how it works to connect them to audiences that really matter.

It has been suggested that $1 billion of ad spend will be running through Google from Publicis next year. If true, how much of this will be audience-driven display media spend?

That all depends on Google’s ability to innovate rapidly and meet our clients’ performance needs. Could be 5% of that, could be 15% of that figure, but the key here is that there are no obligations to make it a specific figure, independent of results.

If it proves to work below average, it will receive below average investment. If it proves to work effectively, then it will grow to its organic point of diminishing returns for each client.

By John Ebbert

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1 Comment

  1. Agency guy

    MTD’s could put any controversy to rest if they would just answer a few basic questions, but no one will ask them. So here:
    1. How are you making money? your tremendous growth suggest that you are you adding a margin to the CPM your client is paying, and the short period of time in which you have done it suggests that you have bypassed client procurement dept and have not disclosed your margin to them. In other words, you just took the money
    2. Are you a sell side agent? by “competing” for dollars this suggest you are. But are you following the standard RFP process to ensure fair “competition” or do you have the ability to strongly influence an agencies to use AOD, and leaving the planners minimal cancellation options
    3. If you are a “buy side agent” are you upholding non-compete’s when you work across agencies with conflicting clients? or when you pitch new clients that are competitive to your existing one, are you informing your current clients?

    These are the questions that most skeptics of MTDs are asking and they are ethical to the core. So they should continue to be asked until MTDs fully address them