Accordant Media Hires CTO For Cross-Channel Push

Nathan Carver Art MuldoonIndependent trading desk Accordant Media is holding strong to its bundled offering of services plus technology, even as others like Dstillery, ChoiceStream and Adadyn, roll out self-service options.

But technology is still a big deal, particularly when it comes to buying across channels, which is why the company hired former Crisp Media exec Nathan Carver in July. Besides leading Accordant’s efforts to link display, social and mobile, Carver will also look at connecting seven other channels: video, social, email, audio, out-of-home, native and addressable TV.

Linking together different channels requires good cross-device IDs, another area Carver will focus on adding to Accordant’s Audience Targeting System (ATS), a blend of best-of-breed technology from various vendors and proprietary DMP technology.

He’ll be improving the profiles within the DMP by creating more links, accounting for users of multiple browsers and multiple devices through a combination of probabilistic and deterministic methods.

The goal is to make things easier for the brand clients Accordant is courting more aggressively. While its revenue last year was split 80% client direct to 20% agencies, now 90% of Accordant’s business comes from brands.

“We found that by working with marketers, we’re working with unique sources of data,” said Accordant Media co-founder and CEO Art Muldoon. Because this data is more customer-specific, like CRM data, it lets Accordant execute with a longer-term view.

“Agencies often are looking on a month-to-month media buy,” Muldoon added. “They aren’t as embedded.”

Muldoon and Carver talked with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: What are some of the things you’re going to be working on right away as CTO? 

NATHAN CARVER: We’re working on releasing an Audience Graph, which allows us to market from desktop to desktop and mobile to mobile by doing device matching across a home laptop and work laptop or from Firefox to Chrome. Identifying the audience cross-channel can expand remarketing audiences as wide as 15%, because we’re able to connect the user across the display and desktop machines.

I think Accordant has a great opportunity in video and social. We’re currently delivering in those channels, but we have the opportunity to build tech to go deeper and stronger in those areas.

What parts of mobile are you focusing on?

NC: The biggest thing is making sure that our customers and potential customers see it as an extension to their display [buys]. What often happens is that folks will look at mobile and say, “It’s hard,” or “I don’t get the same rate of return.” We have to guide them to have success.

What can’t you do now that you hope to be able to do for your clients a year from now?

ART MULDOON: The next step is how cross-channel integrated technology can enhance marketers’ engagement with consumers. Nate coming aboard as CTO is helping with that. The Audience Graph is a capability that we think will result in a better ad experience for our clients and customers.

NC: As we go deeper, especially as we extend our client buys into mobile, video and social, we’re seeing that those additional channels are already trying to show us additional signals about the end user and consumer behavior and viewability and intent. We’re going to be able to integrate those signals more and more. Programmatic becomes even stronger marketing as more and more additional signals are coming in, and that means more nuanced delivery for marketers.

Is Accordant more expensive than an agency?

AM: We’re not more expensive. It’s really like going wholesale. Our fees include services plus the technology of the ATS system plus analytics and insights. For an agency, it would be the service fee, plus they pass on to the clients the individual cost of the technologies separately. When you look at all those fees that the agency incurs, we integrate those into a more cost-effective model. We’re more competitive and outperform agency models.

But you still have to integrate with lots of other technology partners. Do you contribute to the ad tech tax extracted from buyers and sellers, or mitigate that? What are your thoughts on the ad tech glut?

NC: We significantly reduce that. That’s one of the best things about the ATS system. We reduce the amount of technology. Folks that work with us don’t need to go out and do point solutions.

AM: When we compare the dollars that goes to the agency vs. Accordant vs. ad networks vs. tech providers, it goes much farther with our clients. There is more working media for the client.

Activating data, especially first-party data, is often difficult and doesn’t always work right away. How do you help marketers use their data?

AM: We don’t endeavor to build a DMP that’s a brand warehouse of all the marketers’ sources of data. Our DMP has a very specific purpose of managing and creating audience segments to be activated through media buys. We can integrate and tie into large enterprise DMPs, but we’re building for activation purposes. We have a different eye for what information is going to useful for advertising activation vs. data for data’s sake. It’s a much more efficient undertaking.

NC: When we look at the segments coming through the DMP, even before any media spend, we know where those segments are really going to perform. So when we’re crafting an algorithm for bidding, for example, we have a good point of view from the start of how things are going to perform. When we deal with customers and partners, we’re setting those expectations realistically from the start.

What’s an example of how you’re effectively using data for a marketer?

AM: A client like Zipcar operates in 25 markets, and in each market Zipcar has three different business products: There’s a Zipcar for students, businesses and the general public.

Each of those 25 markets had existed for different times. Some are newer entrants or some have been there for a longer time or have competitive pressures. Seattle is very different from Boston and Washington, DC. We have a different data profile of the core customer that we’re activating media against in each market, and we’re also organizing the core insights to help clients understand what first-, second- and third-party data is performing in a particular demo for a particular product.

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