"We're pretty young in our relationship," said Grant Reid, Getty's group online marketing director. "We work them pretty hard, I make no bones about that. At the same time we expect them to challenge us. It's a collaborative approach, and we view that as a way forward."
In the segmenting area, Getty's online marketing is focused on attracting more "gold" and "silver" customers, that is, big spenders on stock photography. "We couldn't do that without the analysis Kepler has brought," according to Reid.
Getty uses Kepler for display and retargeting only, eschewing the other channels it offers, preferring to source ad tech directly.
Reid said Kepler's true strength lies in back-end data mining, including competitive analysis. He calls Kepler's abilities in this area "second to none" and expects the relationship to last.
"The data is getting richer, and heavier, and more difficult to lift," he said. "In the past we've moved around a little too much between agencies. As the relationship evolves, there's more data to be had, a richer set we can refer to."
While Kepler CEO Greenberg came to his role through MediaMath, his background is in media services including at Rosetta and Unilever. Running the MediaMath services group for direct clients such as Kayak, he says he saw an opportunity to leapfrog traditional agencies and their nascent budgets for programmatic spend.
But Kepler doesn't see itself as a direct competitor to trading desks at the agency holding company level, working in conjunction with large media agencies. An example might be a CPG marketer that wants one agency to manage 20 brands.
"There's still a very logical and plausible story there," said Greenberg. "We're not geared to do this. We do work with very large corporations that have lots of brands, but we work with one division, or we'll work with the Center of Excellence."
Kepler Group is a major buyer of "programmatic premium" inventory. According to Jay Sears, GM of Rubicon's Revv Buyer, it has been a leading adopter of Rubicon's Connect direct deal automation on behalf its advertisers. That's striking when you consider the volume of spend flowing through holding company trading desks.
"It's one small example of how we're not mired in the traditional approaches. We're able to use the full potential of the tech stack," Greenberg said.
Greenberg said sourcing talent is among his big challenges as Kepler scales up.
"We're looking for a specific type of person. Good with unstructured problem solving, good on their feet, and can marry different parts of product strategy in tech and analytics."