Tom Shields is CEO of publisher yield optimization company, Yieldex.
AdExchanger.com: What have been some big surprises to you regarding the industry as a whole in the past 12 months? - And for Yieldex in particular?
TS: The biggest surprise to me is twofold: 1) that so many DSPs sprang to prominence and got the attention that they did, followed by 2) the gnashing of teeth when Invite Media sold to Google for what people thought was too little money. For years now, there have been so many networks and so many means of reaching remnant inventory – while inventory that generates real revenue for publishers and more value for marketers has been ignored. As the emergence of a yield management function at major publishers begins to take hold, then we’ll see meaningful value being added to our ecosystem.
For Yieldex in particular, I would say that I’m surprised at how many ad operations leaders have taken on the additional responsibility of looking at premium yield in addition to their day jobs. Our business has grown well despite the lack of a yield management function at most publishers.
What are you seeing in regards to traction for Yieldex products and services? Who's using Yieldex?
Just in the past few months, we’ve been crossing the chasm from a few early adopters to the majority of premium publishers seeing the need for premium yield optimization. Major publishers are calling us and asking us for help to provide solutions to their newly created Yield Management team. These are top-tier web properties like: FoxNews, Orbitz, Cars.com, Martha Stewart, a top health site, a top retailer, a top premium network – real traction and it’s growing. We are coming off a record quarter, and we’re increasing staff across the board by 30% over the next few months, hiring in sales, pre-sales, marketing, services, support, and development.
And, how important is service to your products? Can you see offering services similar to an Operative or Theorem someday?
We are the experts in premium yield management, and we provide advisory services as well as a service bureau. That said, it is a small part of our business - we provide solutions that enable publishers to own this critical part of their business themselves. There will always be a need for service providers in our space, as long as there are new technologies like ours to introduce.
Overall, is the publisher community understanding the challenge ahead? Are they receptive to understanding and then executing on actionable insights that technology can provide?
Publishers are increasingly building executive-level yield management functions to address these challenges, and leverage these new technology-driven insights across their organizations. Publishers that aren't will be left behind. We are planning a Yield Summit on September 29 that will help to educate the market on what the leaders are doing to increase the yield of their premium inventory.
When will Yieldex offer an SSP or does it already?
Has the term SSP even been defined yet? Seems like most companies claiming that moniker want you to change your ad server – and for what? Yieldex builds on many different ad servers to help them all become more of a complete supply side platform.
When will it make sense to allow the publisher to start buying if ever? Does this fit into Yieldex strategy - bringing the buy-side to the sell-side?
Publishers are already buying, whether through audience extension on networks, or through semi-opaque deals with other sites. Yieldex provides key analytics to help publishers understand what to buy and when to buy inventory to fill orders.
Today, we know it as guaranteed inventory. But down the road, how do you see the idea of a futures market in display evolving?
We believe strongly that there will be a futures market, but a pre-requisite to that market is accurate and reliable inventory and pricing data. We are working to provide the foundation for that marketplace.
How close are you to profitability? Will you need to seek new funding to achieve the next stage for Yieldex?
We are well funded and generating significant revenue, and we do not expect to require new funding unless we embark on a major new initiative.
What should advertisers understand about the sell-side that they aren't getting today? Do you see an opportunity coming for the buy and sell sides to work better together?
Advertisers should understand that context is still important, even when buying audience. Buy and sell sides can work together more effectively when inventory and pricing data is more transparent to both. We’ll be hearing much, much more about transparency in our ecosystem in the coming months, and the more we all embrace it, the better off we’ll all be in the long run.
Are you seeing publishers adopting more audience-based targeting in addition to context-based targeting?
Yes, as advertisers request more audience-based targeting, many publishers are building this capability. Strong yield management solutions are even more critical to manage this step-change in complexity. Yieldex technology is making audience targeting manageable by providing straightforward and transparent views into audience inventory, overlaps, and pricing. Many of our customers are demonstrating the synergy and promise of audience targeting combined with yield management.