It’s been a little over a year since Anthony Katsur joined sell-side pricing and inventory manager Maxifier as COO from demand side platform MediaMath, and the former DoubleClick executive is moving up to the CEO seat. He replaces Jonathon Shaevitz, who steps down from the post just two years shy of taking it.
The move essentially codifies Katsur’s role as the guiding force shaping its strategy and business development. Shaevitz, a serial entrepreneur primarily known for his work in the energy sector, will remain on the company’s board and will retain shares in Maxifier. Along with Katsur’s move up, Denise Colella is being promoted from chief revenue officer to president, where she’ll take on a larger role in addition to being the head salesperson.
In an interview with AdExchanger, Katsur said that the focus of the company isn’t changing, apart from promising a more aggressive product rollout over the next few months.
“We want to expand our services to publishers, beyond managing yield and campaigns to managing data and more brand-oriented metrics,” Katsur said. “It’s not just about audience segments and contextual anymore; the table stakes next year around going to be around viewability, engagement and share of voice of a page. That’s where our products are going to be.”
The other big goal Katsur has is around the company’s marketing. With all the complexity and various alphabet soup players, Maxifier sometimes gets compared to a supply side platform like The Rubicon Project, PubMatic or AdMeld. Katsur is quick to offer points of differentiation – particularly around Maxifier’s sole concentration around “premium” ad sales, which essentially means that the company doesn’t handle unsold inventory.
Of course, as SSPs – and even Rubicon eschews the title these days, preferring to be regarded as a more neutral platform that is nevertheless largely aligned with publishers – continue to evolve and promote variations of private exchanges with the promise greater control and clarity of inventory for the sell-side, the ability to demonstrate a unique identity and related set of services, is what’s going to separate the winners from the losers.
Maxifier’s ability to augment and partner with SSPs and other display tech providers is a big part of the image it’s presenting.
“We are not an SSP,” Katsur said. “We sit firmly in the programmatic premium space with companies like iSocket and Yieldex. Even with iSocket, there’s no overlap with what we do and we could even see ways of partnering with them. And with Yieldex, we are at the other end of the programmatic premium spectrum from them; we actually have some of the same clients as Yieldex, who use us both for different processes. You could argue that we compete with SSPs in that we’re all trying to help publishers make as much money. But that’s about it.”
While Maxifier could easily work with both the guaranteed and the unsold inventory, Katsur said there are no plans to do so. “For us, the primary questions that will remain for is: How do we make a campaign best perform? You’re looking at a market where 80 percent of a publisher’s revenue is still driven by 20- to 30 percent of their inventory. How do we make sure it performs above the kind of ‘success metrics’ where an agency goes directly to a publisher to be.”
Maxifier, which works with publishers such as Forbes, The Guardian UK, AH Belo and others, generally works on inventory that commands $20- to $25 dollar CPMs on average, Katsur said. “SSPs are focused largely on the unsold inventory,” he said. “They’re playing in the pennies of dollars, we’re playing in the 10’s and 20’s of dollars. People keep talking about ‘big data’; we want to start talking about ‘big money.’”
The “big money” involves helping publishers determine what the true value of their premium inventory stack is. For the most part, the business model relies on charging publishers flat fees for use of Maxifier’s technology, as opposed to taking a percentage out of sales. “Whatever the publisher makes on top of that fee is money in their pocket,” Katsur said. “One of the problems with the ecosystem today is that there’s one dollar that the CMO puts in and once it gets passed through the data provider, the contextual provider, the demand side platform and the supply side platform, the ad server there’s not that much left for the publisher.”
As he prepares Maxifier’s product rollout, the company wants to look at areas that have tended to be overlooked or not been seen as that important to the publisher’s distinct digital ad sales goals. A deeper look at inventory and price management is in the works, possibly focusing on rate cards, which Katsur said has traditionally been fixed. “There’s no reason [rate cards] can’t be dynamic and reflect real-time supply and demand. That’s something that we’re seriously working on.”