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ARTICLE

The Year of the Sophisticated Marketer

December 30, 2016 — by Joe Zawadzki

If 2015 was the year of adolescence for MediaMath, 2016 was accelerated maturity into the responsibilities of young adulthood.

This year, we evolved from an adtech company to an enterprise software and services provider, because the latter is what the market is demanding. Marketers are more sophisticated than ever. We are entering a “post-channel era” where CEOs, CMOs and CFOs are as obsessed as we are with data and outcomes.

With technology at their fingertips to enable 1:1 marketing at scale, with real-time execution, direct connection to consumers and the ability to measure business results over publisher inputs, marketers are increasingly motivated to “make it so.”

Those are our clients. MediaMath’s customers index toward the more sophisticated, and we’ve built our business to cater to them. This drive to move programmatic out of test budgets or a portion of their media investments sometimes requires new business models or team configurations to do so— our work with Coke and MediaCom out of Mexico is a great example of how this can be done with success. Marketers like the folks at MediaCrossing have moved from siloed channel approaches to true single platform allowing omnichannel execution. And with the pipes to hook together paid and owned media systems through great partners like IBM and Oracle, marketers are extending conversations they start with known customers in email across channels and the marketing funnel. From our founding, MediaMath has partnered with these most sophisticated marketers to push the boundaries of programmatic marketing. We want to continue to be seen as a leading “Visionary,” the category in which we were recognized in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs in January.

In the context of this growing client and market maturity, we made some changes internally that were both exciting and daunting.

Early in the year, we unveiled a new product business unit structure around our data, media and intelligence products, bringing our product teams closer to the client. Our data team, which successfully launched our proprietary data business, formerly known as Adroit, then Helix and now as part of MediaMath Audiences, in January and released into general availability our real-time DMP capabilities Adaptive Segments and IQ in November, is helping marketers leverage more of their first-, second- and third-party data sources (including deepened and new partnerships with data providers like Acxiom, PushSpring and Cuebiq) and shape the analytics around them.

Over top these new product business units, we’ve ramped up our professional services capabilities to enable clients to unlock the full potential of programmatic with talent and expertise.  Our New Marketing Institute, which is now officially in all regions with its expansion into APAC earlier this year, continues to help clients close education and talent gaps through their certification and training offerings and the Marketing Engineer Program. We also revamped our technology organization, appointing Wilfried Schobeiri as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Steve Steir as our new SVP of Engineering. Wil will drive our technical vision, ensure scalable growth of our systems and push the productization of our API and technology platform while evangelizing our technology both inside the company and externally to the market. Steve will make sure our global engineering team is aligned on the goal of continuously improving people and products.

Coming out of this new product structure, we have the right people in key roles across teams to move the company and mission forward. And there’s a renewed commitment to ongoing evolution and mobility that should smooth the migration of people and resources to the focused set of initiatives that need them at various time periods, varied as needed across geographies. We continue to strive to be a place where people at all stages of their careers want to work, and also encourage those individuals to give back in meaningful ways through the launch of our philanthropic arm MediaMath.org.

From a financial health perspective, our enterprise business grew just over 20 percent in our most mature market of North America and to over 100 percent in LATAM, along with (a return to) overall profitability. And we did that while taking something really good—a fast-growing and high-contribution business unit in Adroit—and blowing it up to free up the amazing talent and differentiated data assets inside to accrue to the benefit of all of our clients, globally, to become something great. Even more intestinal fortitude was required to shift our buy strategy for “batch supply”—Upcast—to build, in order to position it to grow by triple digits in 2017 as mobile and video did this year.

Whew.

What else is to come in 2017? Here’s what I know: the market for what we are doing is getting bigger and the number of credible competitors is getting smaller. Smaller point solutions—from channels like video to standalone DMPs—are getting bought, validating the need for the integrated, transparent enterprise solution that we have been building for close to a decade. Audiences addressable through all forms of media, the centrality of machine learning—these ideas are being embraced after 10+ years to move from fringe notion to “obvious.” We are in the business of transforming marketing through tech and math, and we know where the market is going and are increasingly able to shape its direction.

And yet we will do more. The need for supply chain hygiene will cause some to call for a return to the halcyon days of advertiser, agency and publisher in the same way that the challenge of attribution had many retrench to engagement or reach metrics alone. Thankfully, we have truth on our side. In 2017, we as a company and as a catalyst for the cause must focus on belief and proof, and show it in the data and the results.

To do that, we will continue to invest in innovation and even more in scaled operations and infrastructure, partnering with the most sophisticated marketers and the diverse ecosystem that supports them.  We have an amazing team and the industry’s most powerful platform—the table is set. Now it’s up to us.

Joe Zawadzki

MediaMath CEO Joe Zawadzki is a respected pioneer in the online marketing industry, known especially for establishing the demand-side platform sector. With his deep experience in audience targeting and optimization, ad networks and exchanges, and real-time bidding Joe is regularly invited to speak at industry conferences, roundtables and major events.
After a decade representing buyers at top-tier agencies and Fortune 500 companies, Joe Zawadzki saw the need to reshape the online marketing landscape by integrating technology, data, analytics, and marketing best practices into a single media platform. He founded MediaMath in 2007, launching a technological revolution with the first demand side platform (DSP) and today, the MediaMath Marketing Operating System, TerminalOne, powers the marketing practics of more than 3,500 brands.

Previously, Joe was founder, president and chairman of Poindexter Systems / [x+1], incubated Right Media, and as managing member of Occam’s Razor, shaped AOL’s yield management and DoubleClick’s buy-side optimization strategy.

His early career was spent as an investment banker, where he developed his expertise in quantitative analysis and market dynamics, and he remains an active New York technology investor whose portfolio includes AppNexus, AdSafe, 33Across, C3Metrics, Hashable, Accordant and Spruce Media.

Joe holds several patents in the area of online methods for dynamic segmentation and content presentation. He is a graduate of Harvard University and was a Teaching Fellow in cosmology, set theory and the history of science.