AdRoll Group Rebrands To NextRoll And Marches Toward Mar Tech

When the market evolves, you’ve gotta roll with it.

On Tuesday, AdRoll Group rebranded to NextRoll Inc. and launched a new business line called NextRoll Platform Services to help brands get more out of their marketing tech.

NextRoll will serve as a holding company for three distinct but complementary business units, each with its own P&L: the new NextRoll Platform Services; a B2B arm called RollWorks that launched in February 2018; and the legacy AdRoll business that provides display, social and email services for small and midsized ecommerce and DTC marketers, including Untuckit, Bonobos and TeePublic.

The idea is to help brands bridge the gap between their ad tech and marketing tech needs, said Toby Gabriner, who is transitioning from CEO of AdRoll Group to chief exec of NextRoll.

Midsized brands tend to be “under-resourced,” Gabriner said. “They just don’t have the capacity to manage all of the different technologies out there.”

The NextRoll business today looks quite different from AdRoll circa 2006, when the company first launched as a retargeting and remarketing startup. AdExchanger caught up with Gabriner to talk growth, profitability, pivots and what’s next for NextRoll.

AdExchanger: With the rebrand to NextRoll, did you just not want the word “ad” in your name anymore?

TOBY GABRINER: We’re still big proponents of ads, of course, but “ads” is limiting at the corporate level when we also offer lots of other products and solutions.

Would you say that you’re pivoting from retargeting for the same reason?

Pivot to my mind means moving away from your initial, core business, because you don’t believe it’s still a viable option. We’re built off of retargeting and off of our heritage in ads. But our customers are looking for marketing and advertising capabilities to start to come together more, because it’s challenging to manage these things in silos. We know there’s going to be a reaggregation of these capabilities, and we wanted to make sure to get in front of that trend.

And so we’ve seen ourselves pulled into three main areas: helping companies normalize and organize their data so they can use it, helping with engagement and investing in measurement and attribution.

You’re also opening up the APIs that power RollWorks and AdRoll. Why make that move?

We’ve always had a very open platform mentality. We ingest data from lots of different places, and we can also push data out to other systems. Now we’re commercializing the concept and letting other companies build off of it.

How viable is that business?

Last November, we created a joint venture with Rakuten where they’ve now licensed our technology to build their own marketing and ad tech stack in Japan using our APIs and services. It’s gaining traction. We’ve already got around $1 million a month in revenue coming from the NextRoll Platform Services business line overall.

Are there other revenue numbers you can share?

We can’t share any top-level or baseline numbers yet – you’ll have to wait for the S1. But we did achieve 16% revenue growth in Q2 of this year and we think it’s going to keep accelerating. Profit has grown 300% over last year, and we’re planning to increase headcount by 35% over the next year or so.

Are you profitable?

Last year was our first profitable year, and we’ll finish this year profitable, too.

What’s your headcount these days?

We have around 500 people and almost 100 open positions, mostly in product design and engineering. We slowed down on headcount a couple of years ago so we could think about how to improve our unit economics and get a really good understanding of how to make money. Now, we’ve got a framework for making smart investments and understanding the payback periods. I’d say our headcount is the highest it’s ever been other than maybe during the early go-go years, but now it’s also efficient. We’re leaning into growth, but it’s measured.

And what’s driving that growth primarily?

It’s a combination of the fact that the customer segments we’re most focused on – DTC and account-based marketing – are growing, and because we have symbiotic operations that can feed off each other. When RollWorks develops a product, AdRoll can build on it, and vice versa. That dynamic has really helped us accelerate.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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