Frost Prioleau and Paul Harrison are CEO and CTO, respectively, of Simpli.fi, a demand-side platform for search marketers.
AdExchanger.com: Let's look back, first. The last company you both were involved in was Personifi. Can you give us a brief history? And then discuss how your Personifi experience has informed the creation of Simpl.fi?
Harrison: Actually, the last company that we were both involved with was Collective Media which acquired Personifi in 2008. Collective is an ad network and technology company that offers audience solutions to advertisers, agencies, and publishers. Collective was one of the first customers of Personifi’s contextual and behavioral targeting solution, and acquired Personifi in order to integrate Personifi’s targeting platform into Collective’s Ad network Management Platform, which is called AMP.
Collective is the best in the business at aggregating audiences for brand advertisers, so it was a great place for us to see the power of combining great technology with the right market vision and customer service.
As we set out to build Simpli.fi, we drew from lots of good experience and learning at Collective, including:
- Audience targeting is hard work and there is a steep learning curve to get it right.
- Data quality and relationships are very important.
- Audience capture, value and bid technology have evolved significantly over the past couple of years. We feel we’re in our third iteration of this with Simpli.fi
How did Don Epperson, the former global CEO of Havas Digital, get involved?
Prioleau: We have known Don for a few years, and have always been impressed by his vision in this space. After it was announced that Paul and I were leaving Collective, we started talking with Don about joining forces.
We were already focusing on building a DSP for Search Marketers, and it turned out that Don’s long term vision for how this space will evolve is very much in sync with ours.
We are thrilled to work with Don as he adds a ton of value with his experience, his understanding of the online ad space, and his worldwide relationships. But probably most importantly, we just like Don and felt that he’d be a great partner to work with.
As our Executive Chairman, Don is focusing on strategy, business development, and corporate development. As CEO, I am focused on general management of the company. And our CTO, Paul is responsible for overall development of our platform.
With our mix of both demand side and supply side experiences, as well as deep understanding of the technologies applicable to the space, we feel like we have the nucleus of a very strong team.
And now you're in Simpl.fi. You were Personifi. What's with the "fi", anyway? You guys marines? - Semper Fi!
Prioleau: We can only hope to be as good as Marines!
Harrison: The name Simpli.fi rang true for us because we believe that in order for the DSP space to grow to its potential, we need to make our solutions simple for advertisers to use and understand. So while we use very advanced...and complicated...technologies, we are all about making our solutions simple for end users to work with.
Summarize the problem that Simpli.fi will be solving.
Harrison: Search is expensive, and in many cases search marketers cannot reach as many searchers as they would like. So we are focused on solving key problems for search marketers that include:
- The high cost of reaching audiences who have searched on popular keywords.
- The difficulty of reaching users who have searched on targeted keywords but have not clicked on the advertiser's organic or paid search results
- The lack opportunities to advertise to searchers once they have left the search engine's results page....which is 95% of the time.
Sophisticated search marketers have a very good understanding of the value of each keyword, and we are providing them with an incremental way to reach more of their target audience while maximizing the ROI on their advertising spend and gaining insights into their targeted audience.
In a nutshell, we allow search marketers to reach more users with more frequency, and often with less expense.
We also solve problems for owners of search data, in that we provide a monetization platform that allows them to both to generate revenue from their data and also to gain valuable insights into the value of their data on a keyword by keyword level.
With the use of search keywords, what makes Simpli.fi different than what companies like Domdex and Kontera are doing?
Harrison: While I don't know exactly what Domdex and Kontera are doing, many companies use search keywords in a variety of ways. Our goal is to provide search marketers with a way to reach more searchers more efficiently, with the keyword-level targeting, bidding, and reporting that they are accustomed to from their search campaigns.
Also, we are allowing advertisers upload the same keyword lists that they use for search campaigns, and to bid display inventory that is seen by users who have recently searched on their specific keywords.
By doing this they can reach users who have never clicked on their organic or paid search results, and leverage the knowledge that they have built from their search campaigns.
Should we think of you as a Demand Side Platform (DSP) -and does Realt-Time Bidding (RTB) fit in here?
Prioleau: Yes…we are a Demand Side Platform (DSP) specially built for search marketers. Our platform uses real time bidding to access inventory from the major ad optimizers and exchanges.
Who, or what type of companies will work with and use Simpli.fi's products and services?
Prioleau: We are initially working with search marketers who are feeling the pain of high CPCs and low reach, and are looking for new ways to increase the return on their campaigns.
We are also working with publishers and other companies who own search data and are interested in generating revenue from that data. In addition to revenue, we can provide valuable insights into the value and audience for each keyword.
What about financing and investors? Any news imminent news here?
Prioleau: We are self-funded to date, and will bring on appropriate institutional investors once the product is out of beta.
What's your thinking about the publisher side? What should they be doing these days and Is there anything in your offering for publishers?
Harrison: I think that Publishers need to decide how much of their inventory that they want to sell retail vs. wholesale. Either they can lean towards retail, and hire a sales force and extend their reach via partnerships with DSPs, exchanges, and/or other publishers. Or...then can choose wholesale, forego a salesforce, and leverage the capabilities of optimizers, exchanges, and/or networks to maximize the value of their inventory.
Prioleau: Publishers with valuable audiences also have the option to generate significant incremental revenue from their audience data....something that many publishers are not taking advantage of today.
When do you expect to have something ready to test?
Prioleau: We are in the midst of working with initial clients, exchanges, and data providers and integrating their feedback. We plan on taking a deliberate approach to market, and should be in full commercialization mode by late spring/early summer.
One year from now, what are you some key milestones that you would like to have achieved?
Prioleau: One year from now we would like to be working successfully with some of the largest and most sophisticated search marketers, we would like to be well known as a brand that connotes knowledge and industry-leading technology, and we would like to have 100% reach...evaluating all available RTB bid requests on all exchanges.