Sacha Berlik is CEO & Co-Founder of Mexad, an auction-based Ad Exchange specialists company.
AdExchanger.com: Looking at your experience as GM in Western Europe for Oridian, what learnings are you bringing forward to Mexad?
SB: Oridian had account No.1 on Right Media back in 2005 – our CTO had been Director of AdExchange Management for Oridians European offices. Our expertise on Ad Exchanges on a European multinational scale results in so far five years Ad Exchange buying and optimizing. We not only know how Ad Exchange algorithms work – but also who in Russia, Israel & the US is able to build & synchronize them properly.
What problem is Mexad solving today?
Multiple Ad Exchange buying & optimizing. No Arbitrage. We're platform-agnostic - a "serviced DSP". We have our own technology, of course, but don’t believe in Advertisers/Agencies using it. We do it this way due to the fact that the different Ad Exchange technologies so far haven’t been able to be used without an extensive knowledge of the different kinds of inventory. What we mean by that: we know how to run brand-safe campaigns without relying on the Ad Exchange categories; we also have the experience working with most of the publishers and their account managers of media available through Ad Exchanges for the past five years. A competitive advantage you cannot catch up on within a year or two. An advertiser/agency using a DSP is lost in a system not sharing the threats- & weaknesses of the different Ad Exchange Technologies. It leads Advertisers to believe that they are able to use multiple Ad Exchanges without an extensive knowledge of their traps, e.g. dodgy sites. The US-market in terms of Publishers in Ad Exchanges is very different to available publishers in Ad Exchanges in Europe. The European markets not just differ in the amount of Publishers – but also in quality. We know all of these markets for many years and believe that technology by itself is not able to handle this without the knowledge of each single European market. No US-based DSP has so far European expertise in evaluating publisher quality.
How will data appending impact the bidding in your system?
A lot. We use Retargeting, negative Retargeting, Behavioural Data, Geotargeting, and so on. eXelate and other players are good sources for a couple of European markets so far. Still limited compared to the US markets – but they are in place.
Please discuss how your product line's algorithms support differentiations between audience buying and site specific buying?
That's different from Ad Exchange to Ad Exchange. But Google ADX 2.0, Appnexus and Right Media support audience buying – and site specific buying is not our core business. We are specialized in auction based Ad Exchange buying and don’t want to open the backdoor for "cheap" premium-buys. This business-model won´t work in oligopolistic European markets. We always optimize towards advertisers targets. If its audience buying or KPI-targets. Discussing this we are optimizing in two steps:
- static targeting criteria, e.g. region/audience-data/browser-language
- dynamic targets: e.g. CPA-targets
Our algorithms are able to optimize towards multiple static targets – but only one dynamic target per advertiser (and if there’s anyone out there able to optimize parallel towards multiple dynamic targets: please email me.).
Where are the significant pockets of ad network or exchange business in Europe? Is it country specific, vertical specific, etc.?
Country specific, country specific, country specific!!
Even audience segments in different European markets are not able to be compared in terms of campaign results. Female French 18-30 yrs premium shoppers act totally different to female UK 18-30 yrs premium shoppers. And if you go to Eastern Europe… you need many years experience to understand these markets.
Let’s take Poland as an example: A market started in 2003 on the technology level of that time. Using Ad Exchanges as a matter of course.
Italy: A market started in 1999: Using Ad Exchanges reluctantly
Netherlands: Very Oligopolistic market. To be honest I know just 2-3 social communities there using Ad Exchanges.
How does it break out for Mexad in terms of percentage of DR vs. brand, and agency vs. direct advertiser clients? And, how are you solving attribution for these clients? Is it a challenge?
Our clients are mainly agencies (90%+). We serve them though our offices in London, Vienna and Cologne. DR is the buzzword when it comes to use the benefits of RTB. That’s our core business for mainly brand advertisers looking for performance. We don’t believe in single premium-buys via Ad Exchanges.
How do we solve attribution? We deliver results compared to Ad networks. That’s all. We cut off arbitrage from the ones buying unsynchronized in Ad Exchanges and making a good living out of a non-transparent arbitrage.
We have a fixed commission and agencies have full transparency of what we are doing out there in the field…
Are you concerned about "blackhat" tactics in an RTB-enabled environment?
Of course I am concerned of "blackhat" tactics. These freaks who cheated the last years Ad Exchange traffic won't stop. Just see how clever clickfraud happens in Ad Exchanges. We developed technologies to skirt around this with some smart solutions.
Audience-fraud is another topic which will grow massively in the upcoming months. Not to forget fake national-IP's. It´s an endless story and even this is different from one European market to another. A self-service DSP can't guarantee a secure ad placement. You need local European Ad Exchange veterans knowing the bad Pubs hidden in an anonymous Ad Exchange environment (even if it’s imaginary transparent).
Do you feel that Mexad's business is threatened by regulation in the EU?
The part of our business depending of audience segments is, of course, threatened by regulations of the EU. We will see a decreasing amount of user data if the regulations will take place. Also all kinds of retargeting, negative retargeting, post-view & post-click tracking could be seriously harmed if you need to opt-In for every single cookie. Let’s wait and see. It will be just a new challenge and we are prepared for that.
A year from now, what milestones would you like Mexad to have accomplished?
In Q3/Q4 we will have two more European offices in place. In 12 Months we still remain the only pan-european "serviced" DSP with 4-5 more European offices to serve the very unique media needs of the main European media-markets. A French media-planner has different needs in Ad Exchange buys then a Portuguese media-planner – and we are prepared for that. Not only speaking the language but knowing the specific regional media needs.