Madtech Founders Spot Advisory Opportunity For Ad Tech Vets

inc 5000A number of longtime programmatic veterans have shifted to independent consultancies, since so many brands, publishers and tech companies need help with data-driven business transformation.

And the category gained another competitor on Tuesday with the launch of Madtech Advisors, a consultancy founded by Bob Walczak, who will serve as CEO, and Aditya Kulkarni serving as advisor.

Walczak worked up and down the digital media supply chain, including top roles at PubMatic, Xaxis and IPONWEB’s BidSwitch. Kulkarni, Eyeota's VP of technology, was Walczak’s colleague at PubMatic, and leads an engineering team for Madtech based out of India.

“This industry reinvents itself or tackles some major new challenge every three to five years,” Walczak said.

Right now, digital media and marketing is diving headfirst into one of those wholesale reinventions, based around privacy and first-party data.

Publishers need help merging and extracting data, he said, since there’s been a wave of M&A among digital media publishers and older magazine titles. Brands have been calling for in-housing solutions. And platforms (which is to say, advertising and martech intermediaries) turn to programmatic experts for ecosystem integrations and bringing products to market.

Even private equity and venture capital funds are potential customers. Investors are considering more deals for ad tech startups and to IPO bigger-name players in the space. Those firms need guidance from people who have spent time in the space and know individual companies’ reputations, he said.

Madtech Advisors is launching into an environment with an abundance of consultants who cut their teeth in programmatic, and these consultants are more flexible and collaborative than a major consultancy like McKinsey or Accenture, he said. So multiple independent consultancies might work together for a time on the same account.

The programmatic experience is valuable even when the goal isn’t to stand up a programmatic operation. One client Walczak worked for as an individual contract consultant in the past few years is a publisher that only ever monetized through open exchange programmatic, and is developing a direct sales business.

Often, a potential client needs help on product development immediately, but eventually would like to own the expertise and perhaps hire someone as head of data or privacy, Walczak said. Or the business wants to bring on a contract team to help for a project that won’t require full-time staff.

The data and compliance company Safeguard Privacy turned to the Madtech duo for help with programmatic product integrations, bringing a product to market in a fraction of the time it would have taken the business to hire talent and build the technology itself, said company co-founder and CEO Richy Glassberg.

“This is an area of expertise around programmatic that I don't have, because that's not what my platform does,” Glassberg said. Programmatic integrations aren’t part of the core business, he said, but are important integrations. And the Madtech team was able to do the engineering work and advise on the go-to market strategy.

Safeguard Privacy was founded three years ago, but even in the past year or two ad tech has been rocked by data privacy changes enforced by Google, Apple and government agencies.

“This ecosystem has gotten a thousand times more complicated,” Glassberg said. “And if you don’t have 10 or 15 years of experience and breadth of knowledge in programmatic, you’re going to hit this wall and will be roadkill.”

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