Off-Duty: Cruising With Casale

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ADOTAS – As an ad network Casale Media is known for only working with the most premium of publishers, so it was appropriate that its client and partner party would be of the highest quality. And what says awesome like an evening cruise around Manhattan?

New York could have been mistaken for London that misty Thursday evening, as the clouds seemed to lounge on the tops of skyscrapers. Although an October chill swept through the air, amplified by the sea breeze coming off the Hudson River, the view from the top deck was worth any and all shivering, especially when the captain took the ship for an up and personal view of Lady Liberty.

Someone joked that Casale is known for picking the worst times for events, but as fall tends to be my favorite season, I found everything about the atmosphere to be lovely. Besides, I was staying warm with a complimentary mariner’s cap emblazoned with the Casale logo.

If attendees — including representatives from major publishers like Gawker, Martha Stewart and MLB.com as well as tech partner MediaMath — couldn’t take the cold, well there was plenty to do inside: a dance-off erupted at a Microsoft Kinect (I saw some very interesting moves being thrown around to Salt ‘N Pepa’s “Push It) while old-fashioned folks hit up the physical dance floor when the DJ sank into a Michael Jackson retrospective. A colorful magician showed off his card skills, and may have even given away some secrets.

Below deck, patrons enjoyed an array of specialty pastas and tender sliced roast and/or turkey while enjoying the sea-level view. And, especially after one-too-many glasses of the superb champagne (what else would you drink on a yacht), I found myself returning to the frites station and its addictive mayonaise dipping sauce

CEO and President Joe Casale was all smiles as he greeted boarding passengers before the cruise set off and then served as host for the voyage. Along with his son and Vice President of Strategy Andrew Casale and a posse of Casale staff, he’d taken a flight down from the network’s headquarters in Toronto earlier that day, but showed no evidence of being tired. A few associates mentioned that day trips to NYC to visit publishers, agencies and tech companies were standard practice.

On one of his rounds, Joe took a few minutes to discuss the recently introduced CasaleX RTB platform, which he said had been met with wide approval by the network’s 3,000 premium publishers. Setting it apart from other ad networks that have introduced RTB, the platform was built in-house off of existing tech.

“Actually, we already had the real-time element,” he said with a grin.

More than three quarters of Casale’s base are using the platform, but Joe was marveling about the future potential RTB, claiming that it’s only in its initial stages. On that note, we chatted about whether programmatic buying was merely the buzz word du jour or the next wave of technological evolution.

Alas, the point of the cruise was to show Casale knows how to have a good time. Shop talk about private exchanges, data-imbued social targeting, the Federal Trade Commission’s three-pronged online privacy framework and rumors about massive rounds of funding gave way to more fun conversations. In particular, the New Yorkers were pumped to talk about the upcoming CMJ Music Festival — yes, my band Libel is playing, but instead of promoting, I was more interested in finding out where the new buzz bands were playing.

As we docked and then exited the vessel, the wife (who accompanied and served as Adotas photographer) was simply astounded. She commented, “This is really the appropriate way to treat your clients.” Indeed, I thought, indeed.

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