The Online Sea Change: Seevast CEO Lance Podell Talks Rebranding and Reemerging in the Video-Centric New Year


Mergers, acquisitions and re-branding seem as common in the interactive space as a scowl on Simon Cowell’s face. But the effect of such industry shakeups have for the most part, been hit, miss or meh.

Still, as the aftershocks of the Google/YouTube union continue reverberating throughout the digital realm, changing company game left and right, other shifts are occurring just under the radar that have unleashed some of their own magnitude. One such notable overhaul is that of Kanoodle, the sponsored links pioneer that was restructured and refitted into a larger umbrella company now known as Seevast last year.

Under the Seevast tag lies a triumvirate of online-based entities that features not only the well-known Kanoodle brand, but domain rights management firm Moniker, and the newly formed Pulse 360. With this sea change, Kanoodle was remodeled as a PPC-based operation, with Pulse 360 carrying the sponsored links baton in the process.

While it might not have made the front page of the New York Times, the Seevast makeover does have some significant implications for the online marketing industry moving forward. Recently, ADOTAS chatted with Seevast CEO Lance Podell (pictured), an industry vet with 18 years behind him working in the trenches with innovators like Sprinks as well as the first incarnations of several interactive agencies.

Erudite and straightforward at the same time, Podell sheds light on his company’s big move, the hurdles to selling the new name, the well-traveled path that led him here, and how Seevast has positioned itself in the video-centric new year.

Hi Lance, so let’s first discuss your industry background.

I went to Lafayette College and when I graduated college, I went into the ad agency business. I grew up on blue-chip accounts primarily at Chiat Day. I had worked at agencies and I worked at publishing firms, so I had worked at Chiat Day and worked at Conde Nast, skipping a few things. But then I went back to Harvard Business School after about four years out of college. In school, I made the decision that I really wanted to get into marketing consulting and looking at products outside-of-the-box.

It was interesting timing, it was 1990 when I went back to school. In ’92, loyalty marketing programs were hot and I ended up going to Digitas out of college, which wasn’t Digitas then, it was Bronner Slosberg Humphrey. I ended up going there to trot out other businesses that their clients might create. So, I worked with Disney on figuring out if they built the Disney Institute, would people come. I worked on Quaker products building their first loyalty programs, worked on the precursor to AT&T’s “True Rewards.”

Then, I moved back to New York and went to work for Ogilvy in their first interactive marketing group, the first iteration of that out of the direct group back then. [We] put American Express “Express Net” up on AOL, which was American Express’s first venture online, and back then there wasn’t the Web. That meant it was the first place you could transact online. We also built the first microsites online, so we got Fodor’s and Frommer’s to contribute content to the Express Net site on AOL.

Then, as you probably recall, content was king. I went back to the publishing side of the house, and I went to Time, Inc., where I worked on all of the opportunities for the Time, Inc. online properties. That was really fun until distribution became king, and then I went to US West and worked on interactive television. So, I guess the theme here is I had spent the majority of my career on the advertising and publishing sides of the house, which is a good entrée to where I am now. I built for Publisher’s Clearinghouse, and then went to when it was DealTime as the chief marketing officer.

At that point, I had connected the dots between all things advertising and all things publishing, meaning the first time I was in a real referral-based business—where you were leading consumers via the advertiser to the published page—from there I ended up at Sprinks. Again, for about the last 7 or 8 years, I’ve been working on referral-based ad business. So I’ve had a long history at advertising, agencies, publishing firms, and with that, came the logical conclusion that I should be running an ad network that was based on the advertisers and publishers.


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