Corey Ferengul Named CEO Of Magnetic To Develop New Go-To-Market Approach

Ad targeting company Magnetic has a new CEO: ad tech vet Corey Ferengul.

He replaces James Green, who served as CEO for the past six years.

It’s time for the company to evolve and grow beyond its retargeting roots, said Ferengul, who previously sat on Magnetic’s board and also served as chief exec of programmatic ad network Undertone, a post he vacated in August 2016 after eight months.

Magnetic’s new go-to-market strategy is centered on its value as an audience optimization engine driven by consumer profiles.

The company gathers data for its profiles in several ways, including from clients, gets from clients, third-party aggregators or pulled from online cookies and the bidstream. Some data also comes from MyBuys, the ecommerce ad-targeting startup Magnetic acquired in 2015.

Marketers “have too much data and it’s too complicated for humans to consume,” Ferengul said.

After years of snapping up audience segments and cookie lists, advertisers now want to lower the number of data contributors they work with and the growing number of items on their digital media plans. They’re looking for scaled data sets that can generate audiences on the fly.

Customers don’t pay extra for access to Magentic’s consumer profiles and audience generation service, Ferengul said, though they typically end up spending more, because traditional retargeting campaigns are limited to a concrete list of individuals. Sixty-five percent of Magnetic clients use the service, up from 20% three months ago.

Magnetic is also under pressure to find new marketer access points as agencies and brands trim their buying rosters.

A major product investment for Magnetic this year, for instance, will be on integrations with demand-side platforms that will enable the company to provide an audience optimization service via those platforms. The effort is underway, Ferengul said, though he couldn’t name any DSP partners because the product isn’t available yet.

“We’re moving away from the media-buying aspect of the business more and more,” he said.

A self-service ad platform the company publicly launched this week will charge a subscription fee. Its revenue from DSP integrations will be categorized as platform data fees, further separating Magnetic’s revenue from a percent of media.

Magnetic will have to juggle new revenue streams with its core media-buying business, but there are good reasons to revamp its model.

Retargeters face particular challenges in media buying due to browser operator policies, like Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention, and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which will restrict online tracking.

And, last year, the average number of DSPs used by marketers decreased slightly from 3.1 to 2.9, according to Advertiser Perceptions. Although both numbers may round up or down to three, it’s a consequential benchmark for media-buying platforms, which often rely on independent DSPs such as The Trade Desk, AppNexus or MediaMath to lock down accounts seats and then offer third-party services on their platforms.

Channeling business from DSPs also puts new pressures on Magnetic’s audience targeting, Ferengul said, because policies are dictated by the media-buying entities.

“We’ve had to make tough choices not to work with some inventory sources,” he said.

If an SSP or media company can’t offer inventory or transparency standards demanded by a DSP partner, Magnetic has to cut off the inventory source.

Snapchat inventory, for example, is off-limits, Ferengul said, because the app doesn’t have transparent rates or custom ad formats units, which its DSP partners will require.

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