Stay Hopeful For Sizmek? Ad Tech Company Revamps Sales Strategy And Bets On Programmatic Growth

sizmek 02Sizmek has gone through some seismic changes to its sales staff and some of its product offerings.

So despite a 9% YoY decline in Q2 revenue to $40.2 million, CEO Neil Nguyen’s word to investors during Sizmek’s earnings call Wednesday was: “Look for efforts to match our results in the second half of the year and even more in 2016.”

One aspect of those efforts involves an expanded programmatic offering, which makes up 11% of the company’s revenue, but which Nguyen estimates will make up about 16%–18% by the year’s end.

That offering, originally a managed service operation via the Vantage trading desk, has evolved significantly over the past quarter – ever since Sizmek bought the mobile demand-side platform StikeAd last May for $11.7 million. The hope is that StrikeAd will provide Sizmek with a self-serve offering, since clients had been bailing on Vantage as they reduced budget or went self-serve.

A couple of things need to happen before Sizmek realizes that dream, however.

While the back-office integration between StrikeAd and the Sizmek stack is complete, Nguyen conceded that “the technical integration is still under way” and that Sizmek is “working to enhance the offering to other channels.” Although Nguyen gave the team executing those enhancements and integrations a vote of confidence, there are some pretty big product milestones coming up in the next two to four quarters, he said.

Other product news includes the imminent release of a data hub, which Nguyen said will have a “significant effect” on Sizmek’s business, as it will allow the company to help its clients activate their data. Also, Sizmek revealed a partnership, which will integrate a company called Screen6 into its Open Ad Management platform to add cross-screen attribution capabilities.

Looking beyond products, Sizmek’s other big shift happened within its sales stategy. Attrition in its sales force (as well as foreign exchange headwinds) resulted in the company’s quarterly revenue decline.

But the sales strategy is changing in two ways. First, there’s a focus on building expertise to sell into multinational accounts. Second, Nguyen wants sales staff to specialize in key areas, like mobile, publisher, video or data-driven products. This is necessary to compete with the numerous ad tech point solutions in the ecosystem.

It’ll be a while before these efforts pay off in any tangible way. Sizmek’s strategy focusing on multinational accounts, for instance, involves longer sales cycles. In fact, only 30% of Sizmek’s bookings in the first half of 2015 were recognized in its recent revenue results.

And while Nguyen lauded three multimillion-dollar client wins in the first half of 2015, only some of those revenues have been booked. One of the accounts won’t see revenue until 2016, given the lengthy onboarding process.

In all, Sizmek expects 35% core business growth by the end of the year, as its first-half deals close and as its mobile programmatic offering takes off. (Nguyen said StrikeAd brought in $800,000 revenue in June.)

Edit: Some numbers have been updated.

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