Under Centro’s Wing, SiteScout Touts Managed Services, Open Architecture

mattsaulsSince demand-side platform (DSP) SiteScout’s $40 million acquisition by Centro in last November, the company has evolved its business model from a pure self-serve platform to managed services.

Shawn Riegsecker, Centro’s CEO, hinted at the time of acquisition the company might acquire a data-management platform to extend its biddable media offerings. Matt Sauls, cofounder and VP of operations for SiteScout, spoke with AdExchanger about Centro’s work to help publishers, advertisers and developers action off of data more effectively through an “open and transparent marketplace.”

AdExchanger: How’s SiteScout since the acquisition?

MATT SAULS: Considering all of the trials and tribulations that any acquisition presents, it went in a really smooth manner and all of the leadership here remained and now we have just a much bigger force behind us. [We have] tons of support resources and a big sales organization who now has this product in their arsenal. Previously we were only doing self-serve, so now we’re able to do managed services, as well, which is a huge value for a lot of our clients in that they can potentially self-serve and have managed services, which allows them to scale and get more out of our products and services.

Did you offer managed services before the Centro buy?

Before the acquisition, we were 99.9% self-serve and the .1% would be a big client that asked for the additional help. Previously, we never had set up any long-term service relationships with anyone. Centro has a very interesting managed services division and they specifically have an entire team just dedicated to DSP buying, which is the audience-buying team. Over time, I think we’ll see real-time ad buying just becoming such a huge force in the industry and more dollars moving in that direction. One of the biggest steps we’re taking is building a really open and accessible education program for anyone at Centro who wants to build those [RTB] skills.

Centro has talked a lot about consolidation of its various tools.

I think the biggest frustration in ad tech over the last decade is platforms that don’t connect and complete disparity between all the touchpoints people need to get their job done. One of the things Centro got credit for was that consolidation of tools. It’s such a massive thing. When you look at agencies and trading desks that use these tools, their success is so reliant upon the ability to have workflow that’s fast and efficient and I look at a product like Microsoft Office and how they developed that to be, “I can copy and paste out of Excel into my email and Word” so that it’s all seamless.

So will there be more DMP buys?

Beyond all the tools and features and user interfaces, there’s an underlying infrastructure that’s being created that allows for a lot of advanced processes to happen and that’s what Oracle, Salesforce.com build. They have products, but underlying those products is a massive system or platform that can handle any product you throw at it.

I think a lot of folks outside of the ad tech ecosystem are still wary about who will win and who will lose and who will emerge as the big ones. I don’t think the BlueKai acquisition is premature by any means. I think BlueKai developed really well and quickly and have quite a robust system in place, but a DSP is massively important. Within display, mobile and video, it is your final tool that takes action on all of the data and learnings companies have. Having a DSP is a huge asset. I would imagine some of the companies looking at buying DSPs, may just be waiting for the industry to mature a bit more.

Do you notice more marketers bringing programmatic in house?

I think SiteScout saw this happening really early because of the self-serve platform we created. We saw some early adopters here, who were often smaller organizations that didn’t have the budget for a full time agency and that happened to have someone who’s confident and knowledgeable in [building in-house].

The other side of it is the really large organizations who have the resources and staff internally and the time to do training. As the digital media industry continues to take more budget, it’s really important that at the least, any marketer has a strong concept of what’s happening [on the tech side]. There are certainly agencies that are not being as efficient as they could be with people’s budgets and in some cases, this can be the lack of direction from the advertiser, but I absolutely think we will see more of the in-house trend.

What are you cooking up next?

There’s an ongoing development of features – new reporting, exchange integrations, ways to work with data and inventory. Those features often come from user or client requests, but the changes I’m excited about will be the architectural changes – creating an abstract, rule-based system that allows for the creation of any rule. I wont go into too much detail but basically just allowing people to change bid prices on almost anything you can think of. Also, just the sheer volume and granularity of statistics the platform can gather and using the rules system to take action upon.

Will you productize this?

There’s a lot of stuff coming in beta in the coming months. We’re interested in offering our clients some fairly more robust data tools, and whether that’s for the way they build or use audiences, or allow others to use audiences, going back to SiteScout’s mission of creating an open, democratic, transparent marketplace. We want to allow publishers via exchanges, as well as advertisers, folks who build out optimization technologies and other developers that want to use our API to create complementary applications to be able to interact through this platform to facilitate transparent business between all players in the marketplace. The architecture work is aimed at unlocking all of that.




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