Alex Baydin, Founder and CEO of PerformLine, an online performance marketing company.
AdExchanger.com: Please discuss your background. What key learning’s did you bring forward from Epic Advertising where you were GM to PerformLine?
AB: I have been in Online Advertising for the past ten (10) years, focusing mainly on advertising sales, business development, and product marketing and management. Prior to founding PerformLine, I started at United Online in Business Development, then worked at Quigo Technologies (since acquired by AOL) heading publisher acquisition efforts for their AdSonar contextual ad product, and Epic Advertising as a GM of the Lead Generation division.
Working with AdSonar at Quigo, we quickly realized the correlation between giving publishers a platform to be seen apart from a blind network and their ability to receive fair value for their inventory. My time at Epic was valuable in learning about the non-premium and performance-based network model. There is a great opportunity for monetization in the non-premium network space, but there are also many dimly lit corners that advertisers may not have the tolerance for.
From your perspective, what’s broken with the ad network model and how is PerformLine addressing this deficiency?
The trust that existed between advertiser and network is broken. We are telling agencies and advertisers to trust, but verify. We are providing publishers and networks the proof they may need to maintain credibility and bring on an entirely new set of advertisers who may not be buying today because they have concerns about brand safety, compliance and wasted spend. Our platform allows reputable networks to earn fair value for their inventory, instead of having their CPMs dragged down by lower quality networks that have provided advertisers with bad experiences and damaged the trust.
Yes, we are all competing at some level to provide independent third party verification. However, as the verification space matures, the differentiation between offerings will become more important for the market. PerformLine’s platform is the broadest reaching verification platform in-market, offering Display, Email and Lead Generation verification all in one place. Brand Advertisers are realizing that although they may only be currently running display, they may decide to test email next quarter; working with a platform that also verifies email makes sense. Performance Marketers can think of us as a way to safely verify publisher/affiliate hosted landing pages for compliance.
Does PerformLine buy data today and, if so, is it hard to know what it’s worth? What’s your process like in this area?
For certain media types that we verify such as Email, we do buy some data that may supplement some or own data mining efforts. We have built great relationships with best-in-breed data partners. Like any partnership, there needs to be an equal exchange of value for it to work long term.
Is the lead generation space ready for data-driven, display ad marketing as has been recently popularized by demand-side platforms as well as data companies and exchanges like BlueKai, eXelate, TARGUSinfo, Datalogix, etc.?
Lead generation and performance marketing players are the early experimenters of data-driven display marketing. They purchased the majority of the display media during the most recent economic downturn. At some level, the DSPs owe a lot of their initial growth to these marketers because when the brands were not spending, the performance guys picked up the slack and learned how to make display media back-out to hit their metrics and do it with scale.
What can PerformLine offer brand advertisers? In general, do you think the metrics are there yet to satisfy the brands with digital display marketing?
Our technology provides brand advertisers with a way to protect their brand from appearing next to non-approved content. We score traffic sources based on their compliance with an advertiser’s targeting and marketing rules as well as provide screenshots of where their ads are placed. We will soon be launching a real-time pre-emptive feature that will block an advertiser’s ad from being served if the content of the URL does not meet the advertiser’s approval.
Brands have always had a variety of tools and analytics available them to understand the effectiveness of their online display marketing. With campaign verification, brands can now be un-fettered as to which networks, ad exchanges and publishers they buy display media from because they will know exactly where and how their brand is appearing.
Do you think another round of funding will be necessary for PerformLine?
We are operating close to profitability today so we do not need funding, having said that, the vision of the company and our customer base is demanding a roadmap at an increasingly rapid pace. We may consider the right partner to accelerate that roadmap for our customers.