Seismic Changes Come To Sizmek’s Stack

sizmek 02Sizmek has rebuilt most of its ad tech stack into what it describes as a cloud-based modular suite. The rejiggered product is called MDX-NXT.

Sizmek hopes the change will strengthen its position against the ad serving monster that is Google’s DoubleClick. (According to Alexa, Sizmek has the second most ad server market share – 9.8% compared to DoubleClick’s 63.9%.)

“One way for companies like us to compete against a proprietary closed system like DoubleClick is to provide a best-in-class, seamless workflow between partners,” company CEO Neil Nguyen said, adding that Sizmek has 65 partners globally.

Most of the solutions Sizmek either built or inherited through acquisition (including the ad server MediaMind, various dynamic creative tools, a data management platform, attribution and search engine marketing) have had their functionalities completely re-built and integrated into the MDX-NXT platform.

The demand-side platform (DSP) StrikeAd and programmatic data tools from Peer39 are also integrated into MDX-NXT, though they are the only two components that weren’t totally re-coded.

While these tools are designed to work together, Sizmek CEO Neil Nguyen emphasized different parts can be bolted on or taken off as needed.

MDX-NXT had been in the works for two years and has been beta tested by about 100 Sizmek clients. (Though the only client Sizmek is allowed to discuss is the agency Wink.) The platform is now being rolled out more widely, and Nguyen said all clients will eventually be migrated onto it.

“In essence, what has historically been an ad server has been turned into a multichannel, modular campaign management platform,” Nguyen said.

The platform rebuild is designed to enable Sizmek clients to reduce the time it takes to execute a campaign. Nguyen said in particular the company focused on improving workflow within the creative layer and removing duplicative processes.

Say an advertiser wants to use the same DSP to conduct separate campaigns. “Ordinarily, there would be a lot of different hopping points,” Nguyen said. “We’re reducing the steps – trying to collapse the process so partners can work more collectively.”

Data can also be delivered in real-time, Nguyen said, because many of Sizmek’s various functions that used to be separate have been re-built into the ad server itself. “The way we deliver data completely changes,” he explained. “Instead of doing scheduled delivery of batch data, we can do live data feeds into our clients’ technologies.”

The changes are meant to help Sizmek become a software-focused company, as opposed to a service-centric company. (Sizmek’s Western and agency clients tend to be more full service whereas most clients worldwide are self-serve.)

The old platform required Sizmek integrate its different components with partner technology. With MDX-NXT, Nguyen said clients can create their own custom-tailored stack.

Of course, one can’t have a sunrise without a sunset. And many of the original technologies like PointRoll and Eyewonder, whose functionalities have been re-architected into the new Sizmek stack, have been or are in the process of being retired.

Of course, there will be some growing pains. After all, Sizmek’s various technologies have been around for a while and integrated in its clients’ processes. Now those technologies will be replaced, even if the functionality is the same.

“A group of clients will need to understand the new capabilities and architecture and how it’s applied to my own technology stack,” Nguyen said. “We’re entering with [workflow solutions providers] Mediaocean and Centro, and all these platforms we have to work with. This will require some work.”

What exactly that work is and how rigorous it will be depends on the customer. While Sizmek is publishing a standard API to let other tech hook into MDX-NXT, some clients will need to re-write some code to work with Sizmek’s new platform. Obviously not everyone is thrilled about this.

While some clients will be able to adopt Sizmek’s new API relatively easily, in other cases – for clients that don’t have the time or staffing resources – Sizmek will have to come in and do the heavy lifting.

“We’ve already done a lot of custom integrations with everyone,” Nguyen said. “We want to make it seamless, and we’re engaging with major clients, asking what systems they’ve invested in, how we can activate and pass data and improve areas to create more automation.”

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