XUMO’s Colin Petrie-Norris on How OTT Has Revolutionized Content Consumption and What Marketers Need to Know

April 19, 2018 in Blog

Adelphic’s Q&A series shines a spotlight on the biggest challenges, questions and trends in the programmatic marketplace with commentary from industry experts, clients and partners.

Today’s Q&A is with Colin Petrie-Norris, CEO at XUMO. A joint venture of Viant and Panasonic, XUMO is an over-the-top (OTT) content service provider that was founded in 2014.

As CEO, Petrie-Norris has partnered with the world’s largest television manufacturers to combine Linear TV with OTT content and revolutionize the way TVs are programmed.

Q: ATV, CTV, OTT … there are a number of acronyms in the space that can create confusion. What do marketers really need to know?

We like to distinguish between CTV – which is connected television and denotes content consumed on the big screen through internet-connected smart TVs, Rokus, Apple TVs, etc. and OTT – which is long-form video content consumed over the internet rather than over cable. OTT might include multiple screen sizes, but is still the high-quality full episode-type content.

OTT has revolutionized how people consume content. Marketers should really know three things:

1. It’s here to stay, and it’s where the audience is. A recent report from eMarketer notes that 71% of internet users now stream OTT content, and that growth is expected to continue apace in the coming years. Plus, the cord cutting trend has gained traction with many types of viewers who are both young and affluent, which has great appeal to marketers

2. The targeting capabilities of OTT give marketers the opportunity to capture audiences that they’re not able to reach through a traditional TV buy. Instead of buying against traditional shows or dayparts, OTT ads can be purchases to match demographic or lifestyle traits. Data can be collected about which shows viewers watch, when they watch them and the amount of time they watch them.

3. Lastly, OTT advertising is completely measurable, allowing marketers to leverage the data to quantify outcomes and gain further insights into behavior, something that historically has been limited with traditional TV buys.

Q: The last year has seen rapid growth in OTT video ad spending, a trend that shows no signs of slowing down. Why are advertisers attracted to OTT content?

The rise in OTT is a game changer for advertisers because it offers them powerful features they get from digital, including unique first-, second- and third-party data, segmentation and planning, measurement, insights, and attribution blended into traditional TV. With 71% of internet users utilizing at least one OTT service, they have access to incredibly large audiences via the largest screen in the home. The addressability of OTT presents them with the opportunity to build rich user profiles and engage highly segmented audiences in a brand-safe premium environment, and with closed loop multi-screen attribution, measure the outcomes and optimize their approach.

 Q: Given marketer requirements to advertise in brand safe and fraud free environments, how should CTV/OTT fit into marketers’ media allocation?

In XUMO’s case, the premium direct content partnerships we have, our partnerships with brand safety vendors and our ability to target the right ads to the right user at the right time assure marketers their advertisements will be running in a premium, brand safe, and fraud free environment. Marketers should feel at ease making OTT a prominent part of their media allocation.

Q: Are there any trends among OTT viewing audiences that stand out to you?

In terms of viewership, one interesting trend we’ve noticed with our users is the way in which they discover content. There seems to be a preconceived notion in the digital world that discovery happens by typing into a search field, for example, which can be classified as a “lean in” action. In XUMO’s case, we’ve found that most of the content discovery on our platform happens in the channel up/down environment, which is a much more “lean back” action to take. To us, this signals that although consumers have shifted to consume more content via OTT, their behavior within the OTT environment is still very traditional, and that the opportunity to have a linear, lean-back entertainment experience is still of value to a viewer.

Q: What makes XUMO unique in an increasingly popular streaming scene?

Our key differentiator is our native integrations with almost half of the smart TV market. Through strategic partnerships with LG Electronics, Hisense, VIZIO and Panasonic, we’ve developed one-click access for consumers to stream over 140 free channels. These native integrations bring XUMO front and center on the largest screen in the home, and provide advertisers the best of both worlds:

1. Access to targetable, quantifiable audiences

2. Brand safe, premium environments in the living room

 Q: You recently announced a partnership with the PGA TOUR. What does that entail, and do you see this as the early stages of a move to more live sports content?

The addition of the PGA TOUR channel marks the first ad-supported TOUR “OTT channel” available on smart TVs and provides viewers live and VOD programming, featuring highlights/recaps, player interviews, tournament previews and LIVE Featured Holes coverage from PGA TOUR LIVE. Live sports is important to any OTT platform, so we certainly recognize the value and are constantly looking for ways to expand our live content offering.

Clear Channel Outdoor on How Location Data Helps Brands with OOH and the Future of OOH Measurement

March 12, 2018 in Blog

Adelphic’s Q&A series shines a spotlight on the biggest challenges, questions, and trends in the programmatic marketplace with commentary from industry experts, clients, and partners.

Today’s Q&A is with Wade Rifkin, SVP of Programmatic at Clear Channel Outdoor. Founded in 1901, Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO) is one of the world’s largest outdoor advertising companies, with more than 675,000 displays in more than 40 countries.

As SVP of Programmatic, Rifkin is responsible for leading the strategy and execution of Clear Channel’s programmatic OOH strategy.

Q: How does location data help brands with their OOH advertising – both targeting and measurement?

Our media locations have been used historically and successfully to target key markets, neighborhoods or zip codes of interest to advertisers.  However, one of the most compelling things to happen to OOH in the recent past was the advent & proliferation of mobile data. Through, Clear Channel Outdoor RADAR, our attribution solution, we’ve been able to leverage anonymized mobile data to understand how consumers move throughout the world, including past our displays. With that, we understand the types of consumers we reach for more sophisticated behavioral targeting, and we can also measure what consumers do after exposure to our boards through post-exposure attribution. This is all powered by persistent location data & device IDs, and deployed in an anonymous, consumer-friendly and privacy-compliant fashion.

CCO RADAR is something we’ve been offering through our direct channel for two years, and as of last year, we began offering it through our programmatic private marketplace offering as well.  That allows our clients to tap into our powerful targeting and attribution toolkit, holistically, across both direct and programmatic transaction with us.

Q: What are the biggest measurement challenges for marketers and how is Clear Channel Outdoor helping to solve them?

One of the main challenges we’re given by brands is proving ROI for OOH. That was a key driver for the development of the attribution component of CCO RADAR, and it’s gotten a lot of positive feedback from brands, reinforcing what we’ve intuitively known for some time – that OOH works.  From a metrics standpoint, we’ve evolved and diversified what can be measured, and we’re now able to showcase lifts in store visits, brand metrics, and tune-in, with more capabilities to follow this year.

 Q: Are there different advertisers or verticals for traditional OOH buying versus programmatic OOH?

Much like our direct sales channel, we’re seeing a broad range of verticals that are finding value in programmatic buying.  Some of the first brands that dipped their toes in the water programmatically are those with physical locations: dining, retail and auto.  This is due to the ability to target against those locations (both behaviorally and through physical proximity), but also because CCO RADAR allows us to measure the lift in visitation to their stores to demonstrate ROI.

However, now that we’re over a year in, we’ve seen plenty of other verticals enter the mix. To name a couple: entertainment has become an important category, with the flexibility of our programmatic solution allowing advertisers to heavy-up around show premieres to drive tune-in. Enterprise services are also picking up for us, tapping into our airport footprint to reach the affluent business and frequent leisure traveler audiences.

Q: What new and emerging types of formats and screens are going to be part of programmatic DOOH inventory?

We started off with just our roadside inventory, offering a sub-set of our digital billboard units. Shortly after we started piloting, we got feedback from buyers on new inventory to include, and we’ve since scaled up to include the lion’s share of our roadside units (both digital billboards and bus shelters). Ninety percent of our roadside digital units are now programmatically-enabled.

We’ve also rolled in our airport screen footprint, and have ramped that significantly – we now offer 40 airports with video-capable screens across a variety of concourse and baggage claim in some of the largest airports in the US.  Last month, we also lit up a network of private aviation lounges, which reach c-suite, high net worth & highly influential fliers, which is an exciting touchpoint for a very hard to reach audience.

Q: Where do you see OOH measurement three years from now?

I think we’ll see more integration into cross-channel measurement than ever before. OOH has existed in somewhat of a silo because it was historically very different to buy than other channels, and measurement presented a very real challenge. Now that digitization has settled in to OOH, connecting it to the broader ad tech ecosystem, and mobile has unlocked measurement for the channel, we’re in a much different place. Over the next few years, I expect that marketers will endeavor to evaluate OOH to gain a better understanding of the effects it has on both driving upper funnel metrics and playing an ‘assist’ role in feeding the rest of the funnel.

Q: Anything exciting on the horizon for Clear Channel Outdoor and Adelphic?

With critical technical integration work & testing behind us, Clear Channel Outdoor and Adelphic are poised to ramp up meaningfully in 2018. We’re activating with and fielding strong interest from blue chip clients who recognize that they can now buy digital OOH like display: in a real-time, biddable, data-driven fashion, via enterprise-level cross-channel platforms like Adelphic. Suffice it say, we’re excited about continuing to grow our partnership this year!


DoubleVerify on How Brand Safety Will Evolve and What Advertisers Should Be Thinking About in 2018

February 9, 2018 in Blog

Adelphic’s Q&A series shines a spotlight on the biggest challenges, questions, and trends in the programmatic marketplace with commentary from industry experts, clients, and partners.

Today’s Q&A is with Steven Woolway, SVP of Business Development at DoubleVerify. Founded in 2008, DoubleVerify is a leading provider of brand safety solutions to help brands and agencies authenticate the quality and effectiveness of their digital media.

As SVP of Business Development, Woolway is responsible for expanding DoubleVerify’s alliances with digital media and tech partners.



Q: How do you think brand safety will evolve in 2018?

Implementing a comprehensive brand safety strategy has become table stakes for global advertisers. Advertisers expect that their media investment is protected across all channels – including the social media platforms – and all devices at a global level.

We’re making strong headway in bringing the comprehensive brand safety solutions we’re accustomed to in the desktop and mobile world into the social media landscape, and we see those capabilities evolving and expanding over time.

In bridging these channels, we’re able to provide advertisers a holistic brand safety approach no matter where their media runs.

Q: Is there one aspect of brand safety that that all marketers should be thinking about?

It’s critical that advertisers and their agencies invest the time to craft a brand safety solution that’s custom-fit to the sensitivities of the brand and requirements of the campaign. Given that brand safety is defined at the brand level and not one-size-fits-all, each advertiser needs to take control and build out a unique brand safety profile that protects the interests of the brand while also meeting the scalability goals of the campaign.

Q: What about the evolution of viewability and ad fraud this year?

Viewability has been established as a currency in the industry, however advertisers increasingly want to go beyond the view, including looking at more advanced metrics such as how a user engages with viewable ads. Beyond that, we are seeing a trend of advertisers looking to leverage viewability data in a broader way across overall campaign measurement and attribution.

As more dollars shift into digital, we have seen fraud schemes grow in sophistication and sheer volume, with a proliferation of in-app fraud. DV was recently accredited by the MRC for SIVT detection and blocking in mobile apps, and our innovation around mobile fraud continues to expose the risks that advertisers face unless they are using a leading fraud prevention solution.

Q: Are you seeing marketers and agencies develop custom viewability metrics? What are the upsides and potential downsides of custom metrics?

As I mentioned earlier, viewability has become a core component of a media buy and sophisticated advertisers are adopting refined definitions of a view to meet their internal business objectives. DoubleVerify provides support for these custom viewability metrics and we believe we will see more introduced going forward.  Diving in deeper to custom viewability, DV provides advertisers with a unique metric called Key Message Exposure, allowing an advertiser to craft KPIs around the exposure of critical areas of the advertisement, counting the view only when the logo or call-to-action was in view or audible. By leveraging rich data and understanding what KPIs have the greatest impact on conversion, brands will continue to refine these custom metrics and will need partners like DoubleVerify to support them.

Q: Anything exciting on the horizon?

Mobile will continue to drive growth in the industry as consumers increasingly rely on smartphones and tablets to manage the bulk of their online needs. I anticipate more exciting rollouts of mobile-supported targeting solutions from DoubleVerify this year.
Further, we continue to respond to our client needs, which largely boils down to ensuring we’re providing the same level of protection and measurement no matter the channel where the investment is made. As part of that we’re also investing in emerging channels such as OTT and connected TV as we see more media investment shift to those channels.  

We’re also excited about Adelphic’s recent addition of DoubleVerify’s pre-bid viewability and brand safety targeting. You can read more about this here.



IAS’s Mike Kim on the Art and Science of Finding the Best Inventory for Your Campaign in 2018

January 3, 2018 in Blog

Adelphic’s new Q&A series will shine a spotlight on the biggest challenges, questions, and trends in the programmatic marketplace with commentary from industry experts, clients, and partners.

Today’s Q&A is with Mike Kim, VP of Programmatic Product at Integral Ad Science (IAS). Founded in 2009, IAS is a global measurement and analytics company that provides leading verification and analytics solutions for digital advertisers.

As VP of Programmatic Product, Kim oversees the product strategy and initiatives for IAS’ programmatic technology.

Q&A with Mike Kim of IAS

Q: What should be top of mind for marketers in 2018 as they plan their brand safety strategy?

Brand marketers need to keep one eye on the news cycle and continually update their custom brand safety parameters accordingly. Too often we see set-it-and-forget-it strategies, but the savviest marketers are staying engaged by changing their targeting parameters in response to breaking news and consistently updating their blacklists and whitelists to prevent being associated with unsafe content.

Along with customizing brand safety settings, marketers need to develop a holistic strategy that incorporates and synchronizes campaigns running in programmatic, direct, and walled garden environments to ensure that their ads are not being associated with controversial websites and content.

Q: How has the rise of in-app mobile changed IAS’s product roadmap from a programmatic perspective?

Our goal is to help our partners transact with confidence wherever they’re buying media, and that includes mobile app environments. We currently offer mobile in-app brand safety protection, and we’re looking forward to rolling out viewability targeting and in-app ad fraud prevention by the end of January. We believe that it’s essential for brands to be able to target and report on all the types of media that they buy, and to enhance their strategy with data-driven targeting regardless of environment.

Q: What will be the next big trend for programmatic video?

The next big trend for video is going to be the growing focus on OTT. Advertisers’ have increased their spending in this area year-over-year. It’s still in the early stages of development compared to other areas of programmatic video, but we’re confident that it’s poised to continue growing exponentially as marketers look for more media that’s fully addressable. It’s also a space where the duopoly isn’t fully dominant, so while we don’t expect this space to explode overnight, it’s definitely a sector that we see gathering steam.

Q: Should marketers be alarmed by all of the recently publicized fraud reports in publications like AdExchanger?

Ad fraud should always be taken seriously because ultimately marketers need to protect their investments. That said, if you’re working with a quality tech partner there’s no reason to panic. Instead, educate yourself on ad fraud as a whole and understand how it could impact your ad campaigns.

In terms of recent industry fraud claims, marketers should do two things: evaluate if the claim is true, and quantify the size of the problem. In many cases, these bots are statistically insignificant. In other cases, “new” types of fraud are in fact not new at all. Our wrapper based fraud prevention solution and bot ID solution both protect against the type of ad fraud mentioned in the AdExchanger article.

Ultimately, no ad fraud solution is perfect since fraud tactics are constantly evolving, but you can make sure you’re covered by working with tech platforms and partners who are leveraging both predictive and real-time solutions that enable the targeting of fraud-free inventory. For more information on Fraud, check out our Fraud Lab’s holistic approach to combating fraud.

Q: How have viewability standards and expectations evolved over the last year?

Industry standards for viewability definitely got tougher in 2017. Previously, most marketers were happy to rely on the MRC standard, but increasingly we’ve seen traders targeting high-viewability inventory, in both display and video, that exceeds those standards. At IAS we’re tackling this by releasing new viewability segments aligned with holding company viewability standards. DSPs will start to expose these segments to clients in 2018.

Q: Do you expect PMPs to play a larger role in the programmatic exchange?

Yes, PMPs will continue to play a bigger role in programmatic exchanges. There are a few factors that are going to drive that increased adoption, but the most significant is probably the scarcity of specific types of inventory, such as video, which can only be sourced through PMPs.

Brand safety also remains a concern for advertisers and the promise of safer premium inventory offered by PMPs is going to be attractive to marketers. That being said, it’s possible that the widespread adoption of ads.txt may slow growth in PMPs somewhat by ensuring that publisher inventory is accurately represented on the open exchange.

Q: Anything exciting on the horizon?

We’re really excited about our pre-bid mobile in-app targeting segments. Consumers continue to shift their attention to mobile, and advertising dollars will continue to follow. We want marketers to be confident that their brand stories will be met with brand safe, fraud-free, and viewable impressions.  For marketers, the ability to confidently buy and report on mobile in-app inventory programmatically is going to be critical for minimizing waste, achieving scale in mobile environments, and aligning their brand with the most desirable content.



Factual’s VP of Agencies and Strategic Partnerships Talks Cross-Device Targeting and the Best Strategy for Real-Time Location Data

December 4, 2017 in Blog

Adelphic’s new Q&A series will shine a spotlight on the biggest challenges, questions, and trends in the programmatic marketplace with commentary from industry experts, clients, and partners.

Our first piece in this series features Ocean Fine, VP of Agencies and Strategic Partnerships at Factual. Founded in 2008, Factual provides highly customizable location-based audiences and geofencing capabilities.

As the VP of Agency and Strategic Partnerships, Ocean is responsible for driving awareness and adoption of Factual’s Location Targeting Ad Solutions.


Q: What are some of the biggest benefits you see in cross-device targeting?

Ultimately, real world actions speak louder than web browsing behavior. Cross-device targeting takes into consideration insights from different behaviors to create those contextually relevant opportunities advertisers need to really reach their audience.

With effective cross-device targeting, advertisers can reach new levels of scale by tailoring messaging across multiple devices and formats. They can build their brand story and customize content around specific stages of the consumer journey, helping deliver messaging at the right time to engaged audiences.

Q: Why should advertisers care about device IDs in the desktop environment?

Depending on the type of data you have access to, your needs will be different. Desktop behavior only analyzes someone’s browsing history to build insights. But device ID tells a more complete picture, showing movement through the physical world. For example, I love to search recipes and read them frequently. This browsing behavior might indicate to an advertiser that I am probably someone that shops for groceries and cooks often. However, I travel a lot for work and probably haven’t cooked a meal in months.

On the one hand, my device ID would have accurately given you the indication that in fact I do not frequent locations of someone who typically likes to cook, but rather I am a business traveler and frequently eat out at restaurants with friends and clients. However, on the other hand, If you observed my actions through my browsing behavior, I would have been incorrectly bucketed and targeted as someone who cooks a lot and regularly shops for food and household groceries, which as we know, is (unfortunately!) very inaccurate.

 Q: Beyond the desktop and mobile phone, what other channels and screens are emerging as important for marketers to reach their customers?

Having a single view of the consumer is critical because today’s consumers often interact in a variety of ways and are more connected than ever before. It’s important that we understand how consumers behave across all channels, at every touchpoint. It’s no longer just mobile and desktop that should be considered for cross-screen efforts, but also channels like TV and Out of Home are increasingly important.

With device matching, a marketer is able to recognize the same consumer when they interact with their brand, and target that consumer with relevant messaging at scale, across each touchpoint. For example, marketers can use cross-device targeting to understand if someone has passed by their digital elevator or highway billboard, and target that same person while online, on their mobile device, or with an advertisement on television later that day.

Q: When should real-time location be used instead of or in conjunction with past location targeting? Which is the best strategy for a cross-device campaign?

Tactics are really dependent on the goals of the campaign and the audience the advertiser is trying to reach. When advertisers craft their campaign, they need to have an in-depth understanding of a consumer’s behavior relevant to their brand, so they know what will drive the greatest ROI.

For example, Factual’s Geopulse Proximity is used to target people based on where they are in real time, using their latitude and longitude. This opens the door for broader targeting tactics to reach people at or near a place and can drive them in store to make a purchase. You can also optimize using targeting based on real world behaviors of people who visit a place frequently. Cross-device targeting allows you to message them wherever they may be, whether that’s in-app or mobile web on a smartphone/tablet, or at home or work on a desktop computer.

Q: Anything exciting on the horizon?

Yes! Something exciting for both Factual and Adelphic is that we recently completed a new component of our integration that enables Adelphic to cross device target any Factual mobile location audience. This means that Factual audiences can run on Adelphic across desktop, tablet, and mobile, using Adelphic’s patented cross-device solution. This allows for greater scale and reinforces mobile marketing with coordinated messaging across all devices.

For more information or to activate an audience for cross device, reach out to Adelphic at info@adelphic.com or Factual at strategy@factual.com



3 Keys To CPG Marketing Success: Precision, Scale And First-Party Insights

March 22, 2017 in Blog

Most B2C marketers now have more distribution channels than they did just a few years ago. Though these channels afford marketers more data to leverage and opportunities for conversion, they also create more challenges in closing the attribution loop. What’s more, brands also have to grapple with consumers making purchases both in-store and online. This means that they have to market their products in such a way that entices the customer to make a purchase in two very different environments, where they must be equally adept at closing the attribution loop and making use of the resulting data.


Fortunately for CPG marketers, 86% of adult consumers prefer to purchase CPG products in a physical store. But Walmart’s acquisition of Jet.com last year is a prime example of expected growth in online shopping, and innovations like voice-activated assistants and Amazon’s Dash Buttons are making consumers more comfortable with ordering products online. Marketers truly understand the opportunity and are developing strong cross-platform strategies with focused KPIs that align with foot traffic and in-store purchases.

When it comes to cross-channel ad campaign execution, all marketers ever hear is that to achieve precision, scale must be reduced, and vice versa. This does hold some truth, as truly engaged audiences may be smaller, but extremely precise audiences can also be too small to generate ample ROI. Last summer, P&G grapple with this very same precision, scale and insights challenge when they opted to scale back their targeted Facebook ad buys in an effort to find, “the best way to get the most reach but also the right precision,” according to the company’s CMO, Marc Pritchard.

Savvy brands such as Clorox — which tested a mobile-first, end-to-end shopper-marketing program — understand the challenge and are building out their own first-party data sets to gain more scale, precision and insights to connect with their consumer. But the reality is that most CPG brands still lack the type of robust collection of first-party data they need to be successful, or they rely too heavily on partners to identify loyalists and customers who are purchasing their competitors products.

For CPG marketers to develop the type of intimate relationships that drive business, they must have a strong in-store strategy, first-party data, and alternative data sources.

Strong In-Store Strategy

CPG marketers can use their in-store strategy to their advantage. Data breeds insights, and there is a healthy selection of in-store data possibilities for marketers to choose from. For example, brands can work with a partner that provides point of sale purchase data to identify and reach a customer at a later time. In order to drive a purchase, marketers can team with a geofencing provider to deliver a coupon to a previous customer with the potential for high lifetime value to ensure they’ll repeat their behavior at a nearby retailer.

First-Party Data

The open web is home to the same audiences that are on the likes of Facebook and Google, and marketers are coming to this realization and getting smarter about building their own data stores from consumer behaviors on their smartphones, tablets, desktops and more. Brands such as Kellogg, Unilever and Kimberly-Clark are leading the way with their in-house DMPs, stockpiling first-party data to leverage as a catalyst for the type of precision required to deploy efficient cross-channel campaigns.

Alternative Data Sources

While first-party data has long been touted as a brand’s most important data asset, the importance of alternative data sets cannot be lost, as they often provide the scale required for cross-channel campaigns. For example, high-quality data sets can be augmented and strengthened with third-party data from retailers loyalty programs, but it is still internal first-party that should always be the cornerstone of any ad campaign.

Who said CPG marketers can’t have it all?

The post 3 Keys To CPG Marketing Success: Precision, Scale And First-Party Insights appeared first on Adelphic.

Real-Time Banter: Adelphic and Glasswing Ventures Discuss Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

December 15, 2016 in Blog

This edition of Real-Time Banter features a conversation about the future of artificial intelligence and machine learning, through the lens of venture capitalist Sarah Fay, Managing Director at Glasswing Ventures. Sarah was interviewed by Jennifer Lum, Chief Strategy Officer for Adelphic.

Jennifer: What is Glasswing Ventures?

Sarah: Glasswing Ventures is a new venture capital firm entirely focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. My partners, Rick Grinnell and Rudina Seseri felt it was the right time to launch an investment company in this specific area because AI is set to create the next big wave of value creation in the technology space, adding trillions to the economy over the next decade. AI is the third big digital tech wave. The first wave came with the advent of the Internet, which emerged in the 90’s introducing the market to ecommerce and all kinds of online activity. The second wave was Social and Mobile, which have completely changed behavior over the last decade. Technology will continue to change behavior through the connectivity that is now embedded in a growing number of our devices – some statistics point to as many as 100 billion connected devices by 2020 – and the unprecedented amount of data that can be leveraged to make all of our interactions smart. AI will be the layer that allows us to more efficiently communicate with our devices and make technology more embedded in the world around us. Instead of being handcuffed to our computers and mobile phones, we will be able to speak to our environment to receive services and information.

I’ve heard people ask ‘Isn’t it a bit early for AI?’ but I believe we are right at its inflection point. AI has been around for decades. It just hasn’t had the appropriate platforms to draw from. We are now reaching a critical phase where those platforms and connected devices are available. AI applies to consumers and the way we interact within our daily lives, but also to enterprises, making companies more intuitive and smarter in how they operate. Companies like Adelphic, for example, are already using AI, allowing their systems to make faster and smarter decisions.

The Glasswing brand revolves around the Glasswing Butterfly. It’s a real butterfly species with transparent wings. The metaphor represents our transparency with our investors, the transparency we expect from the founders we partner with, and the transformation we mean to bring to these companies as well as the marketplaces they serve. The Glasswing Butterfly is actually a mechanical wonder, despite the fact that it looks delicate. We like to imagine that butterfly flying up and to the right!  We are mainly focused on making investments in the Northeastern US. AI development is very rich in this geography. We focus on Series A funding, which is a needed tier of investment capital particularly on the East Coast, and particularly in Boston where we have so many successful Seed investment firms bringing deals to life at the very early stage.

What investment areas are you focused on for 2017?

Although my background is in marketing and technology, I’m comfortable with the language of technology and how it applies to all different categories of business. As far as my role with the firm, I am reaching out to those in my network across a variety of industries to let them know that we’re looking to invest in Series A startups in the AI space. When companies are launching an AI based business, they’re looking for strategic investors and a firm where they fit into the ecosystem of a portfolio. My partners have a great track record for managing a portfolio of investment companies. I will participate in every investment that we make – not necessarily as the lead investor or board director, but as someone who helps founders across the portfolio to strategize and build their businesses.

Can you tell us about your professional experience prior to joining Glasswing?

The bulk of my career was spent as an entrepreneur and CEO in marketing and technology services. I started as an entrepreneur with a firm called Freeman Associates, a media agency specifically designed to help technology companies negotiate and spend their media budgets. I started there before the Internet launched for broad consumer use. But our area of expertise set us up for success, because when the Internet emerged, technology companies were among the first to shift advertising dollars to online. This became a key differentiator for our agency and helped us to grow quickly. The company grew 100 percent CAGR five years in a row, and we ended up being acquired by Carat, a global media organization (Aegis was the parent company). So, I went from being part of a very successful niche organization to joining a global organization with more than 14,000 people. This happened right as the Internet started to be used by marketers as a platform for digital media and marketing.

In 2000, I launched Carat Interactive, the digital media practice for Carat in the US- right into the teeth of the dot com bust, so there was a challenge at first getting off he ground. But we were nimble and able to change the business quickly. We focused on search engine marketing, CRM, creative, and service where we could capture more revenue than just a small percentage of the media budget. We started with 25 people in 2000 and by 2006 we had grown the business into a network called Isobar of 700 people and $100 million in revenue. It was a real rocket ship ride and extremely successful – the agency was filled with incredibly talented people and thought leadership, and the growth was completely energizing for the whole company. Around 2008, the decision was made to merge the traditional and digital sides of Carat, and I became the CEO of the newly formed company and managed the transition. Incorporating two very different businesses with different cultures is a huge challenge. It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it was the right thing to do for clients.

Shortly after that, I became CEO of Aegis Media North America, a 2,000 person organization at the time. When I left Aegis in 2009, I had a number of board opportunities offered to me. I decided that instead of taking another full-time position, I could make a business of working with startups, acting as a board of director or advisor to these companies. It gave me the opportunity to work with founders at the very cutting edge of where media was changing and re-shaping the industry, and that has been the most exciting part of my career so far. – I’m hoping the VC world will be even more exciting!

It’s funny that we were saying ‘This is the year of the mobile’ as far back as 2002.   It was very clear to me even back then, looking at usage statistics, that mobile would provide a major marketing platform,- but acceptance from marketers evolved so slowly. It was a running joke that we expected every upcoming year to be the Year of Mobile for a decade! But when it hit, it really hit. Since I lived through every stage of mobile’s journey, it was thrilling when it really took off, because I finally felt validated – and of course I have been rooting for companies such as Adelphic and Celtra. According to eMarketer, mobile accounted for $46 billion of the $72 billion spent in digital advertising in 2016. That’s amazing!

And digital advertising growth has not been limited to mobile. The same can be said for companies in the programmatic, video and social marketing technologies. It is fascinating participate in those areas. That has set the stage for me to become a VC.

How have your operational experience and board work helped you transition to investing?

I’ve spent the last 7-8 years evaluating new business concepts and meeting entrepreneurs. While I haven’t before made a career of investing – I have been doing many of the things a VC does. I’ve been deciding which companies to work with, I have certainly been in the marketplace long enough to see successes and failures and to understand what factors contributed to either type of situation. You learn to recognize the significant importance of a team that can execute and evolve their company ahead of the market. Beyond evaluating companies, I have been a board member and have worked to help my companies succeed, which again will be a big part of the job going forward. In addition, I’ve done some Angel investing that includes some strong companies. Aside from all that, I have two very seasoned partners to show me the ropes in any new areas. I’m incredibly excited and ready for my new life as a VC!

What opportunities are you most excited about for AI and advertising/marketing tech?

AI has the opportunity to be a game changer when applied to all kinds of organizational or individual work processes. AI eliminates work that is otherwise done manually, making people and systems more efficient, and saving time and money. AI can have an immediate impact on a company’s growth and revenue potential. We aren’t zeroing in on one category, but it’s that type of potential that I am excited about – technology that can really move the needle.

Why hasn’t ad tech been popular among the investment community?

I think we have to recognize that it’s a crowded and complex marketplace and the buying community hasn’t changed too much over time. We have the same buyers making decisions about which of the myriad ways they can improve results against existing metrics. While the industry is oriented toward innovation, advertisers are trying to simplify their stacks and methods for targeting. It’s going to get to a point where they want to stop adding incremental pieces to their marketing technology stacks. We have also seen the industry start to really shovel money into Facebook and Google, which is boxing out many companies and new forms of innovation. Opportunities may still certainly by found in areas where big shifts happen, and we need to stay tuned for areas where the needle can be significantly moved against new returns.

For example, when Adelphic first launched, a big shift was happening. Advertisers were just figuring out how to tap into the mobile marketplace and they were trying to make mobile advertising scalable. That was a big opportunity. There continue to be new technologies and ad tech developed that add incrementally to these efficiencies. In many cases, the advertiser or publisher will be able to use these to achieve, say, another five percent ROI, which is usually nothing to sneeze at, but it’s also not necessarily a game changer – there are a lot of ways to generate that incremental five percent. The issue is that there are so many innovative solutions, and an advertiser can’t possibly do business with all of them. But a game changer may come along, and that’s what I have my eyes peeled for – especially if AI is at the core.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the programmatic market?

The programmatic marketplace is mature. A recent eMarketer statistic showed 73 percent of digital advertising dollars are spent programmatically. You hear some agencies saying their goal is to have 100 percent of advertising spent programmatically. The ambitions are to do more in programmatic, not less. I think programmatic advertising will continue to evolve. For instance, programmatic buying and selling behavior is certainly moving to TV media. The TV marketplace is very different and programmatic will evolve according to these differences and be different for that channel. Appending data to inventory will become the norm. People will not buy blindly without knowing which audiences they are reaching and how that applies to their pricing. I see programmatic continuing to be important. The fragmentation of audiences, markets and media sources necessitates automation in order to adeptly reach specific audiences, and that fragmentation is continuing.

What do you think the agency of the future will look like 5 years from now?

There are so many different types of best practices across the agency spectrum. How an agency strings these services together is where the magic will be. In the future, there will be a focus on truly understanding who the customers are and what moves them, and there will be a real-time aspect to that. Creative and media will have to dovetail to perform together. I am pointing to the future, but these practices are closer than we think.

Marketers will get better at conversational marketing, which means they will have more two-way conversations with customers. As an example, chatbot marketing will become a key practice. China is ahead of us in this area. People call China the ‘messaging economy.’ Somehow consumers have really responded to interacting with chatbots. Brands don’t necessarily need to create their own chatbots, but they can find ways to insert themselves into chatbot conversations. Is chatbot going to be a dominant form of marketing? Not necessarily. But remember, at one point social media was a very small part of advertising – it was the cherry on top of the cake. If you look at the market today, social is a very big part of things. In many cases social media is central to a brand’s strategy, and ties in to all of the other channels. Social strategies will continue to evolve to include chat and voice elements. No matter what shape a campaign takes, it’s important to understand who the customers are, what motivates them and how they want to interact with the company or brand. Building loyalty is becoming the primary marketing goal, and advertising will use customer data to acquire new customers that mirror their loyal customers.

What was your first mobile phone?
This is a little embarrassing and I’m dating myself, but it was a car phone. It was a big black, lunchbox-sized phone that went under the front seat of my car. Whenever there was a new way to communicate, I had to have it. The car phone was a completely new innovation and I just had to have one as soon as it was available, so I could be in constant contact with my clients. This was back when I was in advertising sales. It was too heavy to even lift it of the car.

What is the first app you open everyday?

Email. Email leads to all of the other apps, but email is the center of my universe.

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