*What was the inspiration to start AdBidCentral?
The conditions that inspired AdBidCentral came from a variety of factors in my personal and professional life in the middle and end of 2006. Having been both recently divorced from my ex-wife and laid off from my position during the acquisition of Siebel Systems by Oracle within a short time span that year, I had a strong urge to pursue a path that defined my happiness and would ultimately enable me to heal.
Entrepreneurship in the digital media space appealed to me. I had covered this space as an investment analyst, strategy consultant and software salesperson for years before and the thought of building a unique company in a dynamic space felt like the right place to invest my energy.
The concept of a Futures Marketplace for Guaranteed, Transparent inventory itself was born out of trends occupying the online advertising space at that time. Exchanges, or “Spot Markets” were gaining favor with direct marketers as efficient means for buying remnant inventory to serve the “bottom of the funnel” advertising objective. Opacity was a keyword of conduct, and made a lot of sense for these types of campaigns as they still do today.
Very few companies were serving the brand and reach advertiser through technological innovation to make media buying of increasingly fragmented audiences efficient, transparent and guaranteed. Fundamentally, there existed no automated channel that provided the building blocks to execute a successful brand campaign likely to touch hundreds of sites. AdBidCentral sought to fill this gap by inventing the “Futures” category of inventory and developing a software platform that deftly balanced the transparency and guarantee provided by the publisher along with the longer-term commitment of an advertiser, agency or network. In this manner, all parties won, and the digital advertising ecosystem would win.
*Give us some background on your executive team and their experience that contributes to AdBidCentral’s success?
AdBidCentral is an interesting mix of interesting characters. We are a small core team of six, yet we scale to reach over 2-3M uniques a day across our marketplace of over 2,500 publishers. In effect, we have an extensive relationship base with leading publishers whom we consider members of the AdBidCentral team and are close enough to the action to be considered family.
The core team consists of Jake Reichert, who heads up our technical development and architecture and comes from the online industry, Vineeth Venkiteswaran who heads up our business operations, who comes from the automotive and solar component manufacturing and keeps us six-sigma lean, Dennis Karriger, who heads up our sales and business development efforts, and previously headed up sales at Lexico Publishing Inc (Dictionary.com and family of sites), Chris Stearns who is a genius guy and developer based out of Alabama and Eun Jae Cho, our smart intern from Berkeley Cal. whom we hope will join us full-time upon graduation this year.
We are complemented by outstanding external partners in 24/7 Real Media, our Tier 1 adserving partner, and comScore Inc, the leader in digital audience measurement.
*AdBidCentral specializes in Futures markets. Can you elaborate on Spot Exchanges and Futures markets and why it is important to differentiate the two?
The emphasis in differentiation between Spot Exchanges and Futures markets lies in quality and nature of inventory as well as the overall marketing objective. Direct marketers are lead generation and acquisition focused, or “bottom of the marketing funnel” focused, while brand marketers focus on brand engagement, mind-share and awareness and are positioned at the “top of the marketing funnel”. A search for a new model car only occurs *after* the consumer is aware that a new model car is available in the market. Factors driving the consumer’s down-stream decision are driven by up-stream, or “Top of the Funnel” advertising.
“Top of The Funnel” brand to brand associations matter significantly in generating product awareness, appropriate positioning, and overall success. As a result, upfront transparency of advertising location and distribution guarantees are extremely important in enabling the success of down-stream campaigns. It is more than just context, more than just channel – the brand has to be engaged by and positioned intimately with the consumer in mind. Advertising one’s brand on the right site, at the right time is *critical* in engendering mind share that drives the ultimate down-stream purchase decision.
Futures markets provide guaranteed reach and transparency to both types of advertisers, whilst Spot Exchanges primarily serve the direct marketer. Futures markets emphasize site brand quality and content, while spot exchanges emphasize impression quality and the ability to convert that impression into an acquired immediate customer.
Despite industry misconceptions, *both* entities have performance criteria – and are performance-oriented. The only difference is the timeline over which performance is measured, as Spot Exchanges focus on immediate customer acquisitions, whilst Futures Markets are targeting future customers and are paramount in creating the eventual swell at the bottom of the funnel.
* Which leads me to the next question…. What misconceptions are there in the industry about Futures?
The primary misconception about selling Futures is that it will create channel conflict between publisher internal sales forces and the automated marketplace. We believe that the publisher’s sales force is ultimately the best brand ambassador of the site, and is *irreplaceable* in that capacity given the intimacy of the human relationship. However, there are very logical and easily implementable barriers to be drawn between the salesperson’s activity and the activity allocated to an automated channel, creating an ultimate win-win. Taking the first steps towards utilizing Futures requires openness and the willingness to appreciate innovation.
Futures markets provide adequate flexibility to suit the purpose at hand and at the level of a case-by-case basis, such that no party will burn their hands, or bleed at the cutting edge.
*What benefits do industry professionals stand to gain by investing in Futures markets?
It is inevitable that we will see a surge in brand advertising on the evolving digital platforms. Consumers are moving to non-traditional means of media consumption and the target audience is increasingly fragmented across multiples sites, multiple digital platforms/avenues. Brand advertisers seek efficient means to build the right brand associations, product position and distribution. Futures markets enable an efficient means of executing these objectives.
Direct response marketers are increasingly seeking suitable audiences across channels, and across markets and exchanges. Futures markets play a pivotal role in guaranteeing distribution and access to these audiences. Fixed distribution capabilities reduce operational and execution costs.
*Who are your competitors and what makes you unique to them?
Overall, our goal is to be a contributor to the advertising ecosystem, rather than a competitor. Would you believe, we are the only automated futures marketplace for advertising today! There are many great companies tackling different problems, and we are very fortunate to be tackling one that is very niche, new and unique.
*What are AdBidCentral’s upcoming projects and what is the company’s vision for the immediate future of the space as a whole?
The company’s vision is to continue enabling advertisers and publishers leverage the power of futures-based media. We have been consistent in our vision since official launch in October 2007, and the consistent progress that we are experiencing indicates that we are heading in the right direction. Ultimately, our desire is to be a valued contributor to the advertising ecosystem, and we envision many significant innovations stemming from the kernel of a media future.