Yesterday in a release, performance marketing company MediaTrust announced that it had acquired Bardon Advisors, a "Los Angeles-based, CPC search & affiliate marketing platform for online advertisers and publishers." In the process, it named Bardon Founder & CEO Keith Cohn as President of MediaTrust. Read more.
Peter Bordes, CEO of MediaTrust, discussed the acquisition and the performance marketing space.
AdExchanger.com: Why does this combination of Bardon Advisors and MediaTrust make sense?
PB: We believe that online media is evolving towards platform-driven ecosystems and will eventually move even further to performance-based pricing. We see cpms and cpcs as currencies for driving liquidity in performance driven transactions. Our goal is to make sure the MediaTrust platform has all the tools, expertise, and pricing models in place to facilitate and accommodate this shift. Bardon adds an entire turn-key quality-driven cpc/search marketing capabilities layer onto the MediaTrust platform that increases ROI for our agency, advertiser, publisher and affiliate marketer partners.
How many employees does Bardon Advisors have? How will you integrate them?
12 full-time, that will be fully integrated into the MediaTrust organization. We have created a very scalable platform that makes it easy to integrate Bardon into.
Bardon has built a very efficient team and culture that shares the same collaborative partnership-centric values we have created at MediaTrust . We are thrilled to have Keith join as President and partner in MediaTrust . He has experience building large organizations and will add great knowledge to help us take the Mediatrust organization into its next phase of growth.
What needs to happen to grow platform-based buying in the lead generation and/or affiliate marketing space?
We have to drive growth by innovating and moving from a service & network model to being technology and platform centric. We don't think we are too far off from broader adoption of platform buying, as the industry is going through a next round of consolidation that is further driving the adoption of platform-based transactions. Our clients are using it today and we will be releasing more technology that drives this further in the near future. This is the only way we as an emerging segment of the internet marketing industry can scale.
To answer your question more specifically:
We need technology that facilitates dynamic quality-driven systems and pricing that rewards publishers for driving higher quality. This is the spark of starting more exchange-like transactions where advertisers can begin to bid on traffic. A focus on quality will further elevate the good from the mediocre and the bad (which affiliate marketing has a reputation for and needs to move away from). All traffic is not created equal and we need to have technology that drives and supports this.
Another thing that needs changing is the mindset that online direct response and brand building are mutually exclusive. If you execute a well-designed online direct response campaign, you get the brand building for free. If you aren't looking at it that way, then you aren't working with the right partner.
We also have to make sure that innovation in the performance space moves well ahead of where it is today (which is non-existent). Traditionally, this industry hasn’t been known for its technical innovation and has been primarily driven by "highest payouts and exclusives" which is not a scalable or sustainable business model. This emerging business segment has a tremendous amount of room for technology that will drive platform buying forward. We have not even scratched the surface yet.
Finally, as an industry we have to continue to push the concepts of true transparency and compliancy so the tier 2 and tier 1 advertisers are more attracted to doing more online direct response. The needs of the agencies and brands starting to enter the space will drive the shift to create performance driven analytics, automation and deeper transparency tools and reporting.
Given moves in the space such as Quinstreet, can you see MediaTrust going public someday? Is this the end game for lead generation companies?
First of all, we see ourselves as much more than a lead generation company. Lead gen is only one small part of the value we offer to advertisers and publishers. We offer a turn-key platform to allow partners to choose the result they want to pay for - regardless of whether that means leads, sales or clicks - all on a single platform. The customer decides (because the customer knows best) the desired outcome they seek with the campaign. At MediaTrust, we see ourselves as problem solvers with a portfolio of tools to create highly customized and diverse programs for our advertising and publishing partners. We are not a one size fits all platform.
As for IPO versus M+A versus staying private: We follow the mantra "if you build it they will come." We are focused on creating a long term scalable business with enterprise value. We seek to build the most stable and successful firm in our industry segment for our shareholders, business partners and fellow members of the MediaTrust organization. Depending on external factors, opportunities and the economy, we could go in any one of several directions. We will know when we get there. We are just getting started.
By John Ebbert