ADOTAS EXCLUSIVE — MediaBank is a firm looking to revolutionize the media buying industry with its cross-platform technology. CEO Brad Keywell spoke to ADOTAS about the origins of the company, the economy and the team that makes Media Bank tick.
ADOTAS: I understand you have been working on MediaBank for about 15 years now. What is your professional background and that of the company?
BRAD KEYWELL: MediaBank was founded almost three years ago and has since built the first-of-its-kind digital media buying platform, MediaBank O|X, which incorporates not only every stage of the media segmentation and buying process but also includes every form of digital media (display, search, mobile, and more). Through a strategic acquisition of Datatech Software in 2007, we integrated our digital media expertise with Datatech’s 25 years-plus of traditional media experience. Today, MediaBank is a fully integrated, “future proof” solution, in that we designed it to meet both today’s needs and to easily evolve as media types proliferate, with the reality that very soon ALL media will be digitally delivered.
We also recently announced the release of our A|X 2.0 analytics suite, which is the only cross-media analytics tool natively integrated into actual media buying data across all media types. MediaBank A|X provides the most advanced analytics insight by managing hundreds of data sources and consolidating information onto one dashboard to keep a real-time pulse on performance.
We believe huge advantages in the media planning and buying space are gained through the creation of innovative technology that enables the harnessing of data for superior buying and analytics. This is what MediaBank does for its clients – make them competitively superior to those using legacy technologies, through a more flexible, transparent technology platform. We believe that MediaBank presents an unparalleled solution for media buyers and advertisers and a massive improvement over the once-dominant legacy systems.
ADOTAS: The company is expanding and looking to the future with two major acquisitions. What will the addition of DataTech and BlackFoot do for MediaBank?
KEYWELL: Our vision at MediaBank is to provide the absolute best technology and solutions to improve media buying and to make both media buyers and advertisers more efficient, more intelligent and more capable of leveraging the massive amounts of data that are in today’s media landscape. In a world where the average cost of an ad has gone from the thousands of dollars (when network TV was dominant) to hundreds or tens of dollars (given the growth of digital media), the reality is an explosion of transactions and an abundance of data. Most of the legacy systems simply aren’t built to this scale, given the limitations of their old technology architecture and preference for “closed” systems. Our focus is on open systems, transparency of data and flexible technology. We’ve found significant opportunities of acquiring complimentary businesses and enhancing them with our platform, perspective, and capital. The Datatech acquisition gave us a fantastic boost to our functionality in analogy media operations (TV, radio, print, and more). At the same time, we have migrated the Datatech application to our ASP hosted environment, making it easier to use, more visually appealing and capable of dynamic customization. The Blackfoot acquisition demonstrates our commitment to being the analytics leaders. We feel our analytics platform presents an opportunity for our clients to be smarter and more insightful stewards of media buying dollars.
ADOTAS: Some of the members of your board are high powered business people with very reputable histories. Can you give some details on these members and any strategy MediaBank had in mind in creating this board?
KEYWELL: We feel that a truly independent and qualified board is one of the best insurance policies of long term stability and prudent corporate governance. Given that our software is a critical component of the operations of our clients, it is essential that a client can look at the board of directors of its technology partner and see disciplined leadership. At MediaBank, our board includes:
• Ted Leonsis (Vice Chairman of AOL and the owner of the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards)
• Betsy Holden (formerly the CEO of Kraft and a senior advisor at McKinsey & Co.)
• Jack Greenberg (formerly the CEO of McDonalds and the Chairman of Western Union)
• John Walter (formerly the CEO of R.R. Donnelly and the President of AT&T)
• Linda Wolf (formerly the CEO of Leo Burnett and currently on the board of directors of Wal-Mart)
• Dipak Jain (Dean at Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University)
• Peter Barris (Managing Partner of New Enterprise Associates)
• Harry Weller (Partner at New Enterprise Associates)
This is an exceptional board by any measure, and we believe independent and qualified governance is a litmus test that all media agencies and advertisers should put their technology partners through.
ADOTAS: How does MediaBank displace the monopoly of Donovan Data Systems? Why is this important for the industry?
KEYWELL: It is critical for this industry to focus on innovation and efficiency, not stagnation. What we see in this industry is a lot of great ideas and thoughts, too many of which end up being shelved because the legacy technology platforms are too rigid and too “closed” to accommodate any innovation.
By way of comparison, MediaBank has created a flexible platform, with transparent access to data, on a single database that enables cross-media visibility that would be impossible on the legacy platforms. This kind of innovation is important to the industry on many levels – one, it gives media agencies an edge in the marketplace as they become more efficient and intelligent by using insightful data; two, choice is good and we are giving clients a choice of operating systems that they never had before; and, three, the limitations of the legacy systems have separated operations from intelligence, previously rendering analytics nearly obsolete from the media buying process.
A U.S. Supreme Court justice once said, “Sunlight is the best antiseptic.” MediaBank is helping shine light on the operational inefficiencies of the media buying process through the flexibility and transparency of our platform. The result is not only a cure to lagging operational issues, but also an elevation of “the game” to new levels. Those who choose MediaBank will find themselves at a distinct competitive advantage when pitching new business and that is the ultimate testament to the value of our platform.
ADOTAS: Your platform shows you front and back end analytics for five different ads in one place. Why has no one been able to accomplish this before?
KEYWELL: Great analytics depends on two things – great data and a great technology platform. MediaBank’s system hosts massive amounts of media spend across all media types, so not only do we have access to comprehensive data; we know how to manage it and how to make it useful for clients. Our methodology was to spend time with media buyers and listen to what they needed to do their job better. We heard them loud and clear, we made the investment and we built it. We also built the A|X analytics platform from the ground up, on the same premise – give people what they need. And now, we’ve created an analytics platform that outperforms some of the biggest and most expensive business intelligence applications on the market. MediaBank A|X enables deep analysis of multiple media types against each other (for example, TV, radio, search, and display) as well as bringing result data (for example, brand sales data or call center response data) and demographic data all together for predictive analytics. It’s very powerful, and has never been done before in an integrated and automated fashion, and it is a huge differentiator for those who are on the MediaBank platform against those who are not.
ADOTAS: MediaBank moves analytics closer and closer to real-time. How do you accomplish this?
KEYWELL: Again, good analytics is about good data, and we are data experts. While historically analytics were done looking back weeks, months, quarters or even years, we know it’s most useful to give our clients the ability to see performance measurements from just minutes, hours or days ago. What’s recent is what’s relevant. We enable a level of predictive analytics that can make the difference between “great” and “good” media buying.
ADOTAS: How have you seen the recession affect your business and the industry as a whole?
KEYWELL: The economic issues in our country, and in the world, have touched nearly every corner of business, and the advertising space is no exception. At the same time, we are seeing our business experience significant growth in the face of these challenges. I think that’s because we offer a solution to truly meet media agencies’ needs and our clients see the cost savings in using software that helps them be more efficient and make better business decisions.
ADOTAS: Who are your clients? How has their response been to your services?
KEYWELL: Our clients are most of the major media buying agencies as well as a large number of mid-size agencies and advertisers that buy media directly. On the analytics side of our business, clients span a wide range, from media buyers, advertisers, ad networks, publishers and more. We hear a lot of thanks for making things more simple, logical, connected, and transparent, and we also hear useful feedback to further enhance features and functionality, which we incorporate into our systems on an ongoing basis. As a result, we continue to make what you see today better, and our clients appreciate that commitment.
ADOTAS: Who would you consider MediaBank’s greatest competitors? What does MediaBank do better than these firms and where does the company still need to improve?
KEYWELL: We have competitors across each of our product lines – competitors to our O|X media buying operations system, competitors to our A|X analytics system, competitors to our I|Q data warehouse and dashboard system, and competitors to our soon-to-be-released X|G buyer/seller portal system. But, when it comes to an integrated solution that spans both media buying operations, reporting, analytics, workflow and buyer-seller efficiency, no one has the breadth and depth of our solutions. With that said, MediaBank is not resting on its laurels of bringing great technology to the advertising industry. We are committed to advancing the capabilities of our systems and continuing to adapt as media types proliferate.
ADOTAS: What are the next steps for MediaBank? Will the firm be venturing into other aspects of advertising?
KEYWELL: We continue to relentlessly innovate. We are committed to leadership in innovations for advertising types, delivery systems and targeting methodology into our platform. We understand that soon all media will be digital and are committed to being the leaders in operational and analytics systems so media agencies can make the most of that wonderful tidal wave of data. We are committed to being the most progressive company on the technology landscape in enabling buyers and sellers of media to communicate, interact and transact more efficiently and effectively. Innovation is fun, it’s exciting and it makes each day a day of opportunity and promise. That’s how we look at the world.