IPONWEB might have made its name building ad tech for other vendors, but it’s increasingly hoping to directly service agencies, brands and publishers.
An expanding 35% of IPONWEB’s business comes directly from media buyers and owners, and in late February, the company brought on Rubicon Project and Spotify vet Jana Jakovljevic to build out its North America direct business.
As IPONWEB’s VP of business development, Jakovljevic will help build customized ad tech solutions for clients on top of uPlatform, a suite of core real-time bidding (RTB) functionalities like ad serving, prediction modeling, optimization and audience management.
Jakovljevic will also familiarize the buy and sell sides with IPONWEB’s brand.
“We’re still relatively unknown, despite building over 100 RTB platforms,” Jakovljevic said.
She spoke with AdExchanger.
AdExchanger: What kind of tools can you build on top of uPlatform?
JANA JAKOVLJEVIC: Each platform is built to the client’s spec, goals and business needs and structure. It’s bespoke, personalized and customizable. We can integrate with existing reporting infrastructures or legacy systems. It’s built from the ground up, but we’re not building from scratch.
What attracted you to IPONWEB?
It’s great to be back at a pure ad tech company and a startup. I’ve been in programmatic since its inception. It’s exciting to see it move across mediums and to emerging media. It was important for me to remain at the forefront of this evolution.
I like IPONWEB’s personalized approach to solving a client's problem by providing a single-tendency platform where they're completely in control of the road map. We’re also independent of the media business. Our pricing is transparent: there’s an establishment fee to build the platform and then there’s a monthly SaaS model. If the client wants to continue developing, there's an ongoing fee.
IPONWEB built the foundation for a lot of programmatic systems in the industry, starting with RightMedia back in 2004. Where can you find pieces of IPONWEB tech now?
We are bound by confidentiality agreements with a lot of our clients, but most recently we built Dish’s linear TV SSP. We’re powering TrustX. We did start back in 2004 helping power the algorithms and logic behind RightMedia’s exchange, one of the first in digital trading.
IPONWEB is working more with publishers, media owners, brands and agencies. How are they responding to IPONWEB’s offer?
They’re keen to understand because they’ve not heard of us. They want to learn from us.
Both the sell and buy side need to understand their partners’ business models to ensure they’re asking the right questions. We’ve seen recently that perhaps partners have not been so transparent with their business models. I don’t think they've deliberately hidden things. A lot of players haven’t asked the right questions. This is a new industry.
There’s a need for cost and operational transparency, but also their businesses are more complex. The way we consume media is a lot more complex in moving to multiple devices. It’s not possible to deploy a turnkey solution anymore that will fit their business.
What’s a typical client ask on the buy and sell side?
Clients will typically ask for something they don’t need. Often people will say, “I need a DSP or an SSP.” Usually they just need a solution that, for example, helps them monetize their data in a secure way, or enhance their algorithms. They might not need a complete ad stack.
The buy side is complicated, especially from the agency’s perspective. They're working with multiple systems with disparate reporting. They need a tool to consolidate systems from their various clients in one point to make the buying process more efficient.
Publishers need control and transparency, but every publisher is different. One may just need a platform that’s going to monetize their inventory across multiple channels and devices. Others need a header bidding solution that’s transparent and provides log-level data where they can control how the bid logic works. If they want to apply bid biasing or implement first price, fixed rate or second price, they can. There’s a need for more customization and flexibility.
In what capacity is IPONWEB still working with ad tech companies?
We power SSPs. On the DSP side, it depends if they’re running a managed service or a self-service business. We might help them with machine learning, customized algorithms around brand data or moving into new channels like video, in-app or native.
Where will IPONWEB be two years down the road?
Hopefully we’re the technology that powers the buying and selling of media across platforms, something that can deliver and add to an audience, regardless of what the device is or how they’re consuming it.
How will your history at Spotify and Rubicon help you in your new role?
I was at Rubicon Project for six years, working on the buy side integrating DSPs into its exchange. I also served buyers and agency trading desks and promoted inventory on the Rubicon Project marketplace, so I spent a lot of time understanding [buyers’] business models and client KPIs. It gave me technical grounding in RTB to understand what’s happening in a bid request and response, how DSPs and SSPs connect, auction mechanics and a DSP's bid strategy.
On the publisher side, I had hands-on experience working with SSPs across formats like display, video and, of course, audio. I gained experience integrating programmatic systems with existing publisher systems, infrastructure, processes and teams.
Why did you leave Spotify?
I was hired by Spotify to integrate programmatic, train and enable the sales team to sell private marketplaces, build a team of programmatic experts and yield managers, integrate programmatic across the sales org and, of course, launch programmatic audio. I had a clear task, and I think I achieved that.
This interview has been edited and condensed.