Off-Duty: AdSafe and m6d Serve Up a Ping Pong Party

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ADOTAS – When I wasn’t trying to beat my high score on Pinbot, I spent a good amount of my formative years working the ping pong table, perfecting a bitchy little serve that still drives my opponents nuts. While I’m definitely no table-runner, I’ve been able to hold my own with friends who obviously spent even more of their formative years at the ping pong table. (I kick their asses at pinball, however.)

Yes, I still play ping pong a good deal as many of my musician pals are avid pongers, which I mention to AdSafe CEO Scott Knoll at his company’s joint party with m6d at SPiN, a classy ping pong/drinking establishment by the Empire State Building (I actually met co-owner Susan Surandon on a previous visit and tried my best not to think about this). He replies that it’s the same with ad tech people — in fact, his old DoubleClick boss Kevin Ryan was the company ping pong champion and still plays competitively.

The ad techers’ affinity for ping pong takes center stage as the tournament gets going: the teams, mainly based on company divisions, are fiercely competitive (but still friendly — most of them have to work together the next day) and foul words go flying — it’s amazing the things that come out of people’s mouths when they slam the ball off the table.

Alas, I can’t join the action because, man about town I am, I have a Vibrant Media party to hit later. So I stick to the sidelines, getting some more details from Knoll about AdSafe’s recently launched Engagement Quality Ratings, pre-bid verification technology. I also run into m6d CEO Tom Phillips, who informs me the company I used to know as Media6Degrees has quietly rebranded itself as m6d and renamed its specialty “prospect targeting.”

“It’s dry, but true,” Phillips commented. “And it needs to be true.”

Previously, m6d was known as a leading social targeting firm, but that classification ended up causing much confusion as social targeting has nothing to do with social media. While social targeting gets maligned a lot as “lookalike targeting,” prospect targeting is actually a fairer description of what m6d does — target users with similar aspects to current customers/site visitors who have shown an affinity for the brand.

As we’re both big music guys (I still remember getting distracted while interviewing Phillips by a conference room named “Max’s Kansas City” and a framed copy of The Cars‘ self-titled debut album on the wall), Phillips introduces me to Brian Dalessandro, director of data mining and statistical analysis, who I actually already knew from his band Hi, Mountain (which may have a new name soon). Dalessandro also plays drums for the m6d house band (I have a standing invite to jam at their next get-together) as well as Something Heavy, which is led by Alan Chapell of Chappell & Associates.

Chappell, who is definitely a great resource when it comes to the legal issues surrounding data collection and online privacy, was hanging out too and promoting Something Heavy’s next gig at the Canal Room on Nov. 8. From the pictures on the Facebook site, he looks like a helluva frontman — I can’t wait to get the live experience next week.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Lindsey Bourne, marketing manager for Legolas, a startup focusing on buying and selling audience futures. Forget real-time bidding — how about future-time bidding? (Yay, another acronym — FTB.) Before rushing back to her ping pong match, Bourne excitedly explained how Legolas’ technology forecasts the audience that will arrive on a site and enables advertisers to bid on serving impressions to these future visitors — going out as far as two or three months at the moment. Could this be the new guaranteed, audience-targeted inventory for advanced campaign planning?

On a side note, Legolas just partnered with consumer and market intelligence firm SymphonyIRI to leverage in-store purchase behavior and sales data into the media buying and campaign measurement processes.

But enough business — let’s see some little balls being smacked around! The winner of the tournament was Team Mindshare, made up of Abraham MadampilMindShare ad operations manager, and Rob Patcher, AdSafe account manager. I hope the prize was a golden paddle — those can come in really handy in the bedroom… When you need to swat a mosquito… Yeah…

All photos courtesy of Michelle Wild of MWild Photography.

 

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