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May 23, 2013, Article

Article

Size Doesn't Matter: Sony Music Partners With 'Boutique' Trading Desk

Link to original MediaPost article

Huddled Masses, a "boutique" real-time trading desk, will today announce a partnership with Sony Music. Charles Cantu, CEO of Huddled Masses, spoke with RTM Daily about the deal, why record label companies are drawn to RTB in the first place, and why a smaller trading desk sometimes makes sense, even for big brands.

Cantu described a "boutique" trading desk by first commenting on what they are not. "We're not part of one of the big conglomerates," he said. With such a small number of employees, 5-10, according to Cantu, he believes the company is able to take on the kinds of specialized clients that larger trading desks would not.

The small New York-based company is big on working with record labels, such as Sony Music Labels, Epic Records, Columbia Records, and others. Cantu said that the inconsistency of the music industry means that their business models don't fit with the larger trading desks that require minimum spending thresholds, which he claimed Huddled Masses works on reducing.

Dan De Guzman, senior director, strategic advertising at Sony Music, stated, "The promotion cycle in the music industry is such that we have several short-term campaigns with different audience targets." 

In an earlier statement, Cantu said, "Big brands often benefit from programmatic because they can devote large budgets to driving online conversions over a longer period of time. Because Sony Entertainment spreads its budget around to several different campaigns aimed at very-specific audience segments, it isn’t able to meet minimum investment thresholds for larger DSPs or trading desks." 

For such a small trading desk, one has to wonder how they are able to work with this type of tech and these types of companies. It doesn't hurt that Huddled Masses has a close relationship with MediaMath, where Cantu used to work. While he has moved away from the company, MediaMath serves the role of Huddled Masses' unofficial big brother. The trading desk utilizes MediaMath's TerminalOne platform for their major tech needs, although Cantu did note that Huddled Masses has their own UI. 

The deal also raises the question: with concern over inventory quality, what attracts record labels to the RTB method? "They needs tons and tons of clicks to drive to iTunes or Amazon in order to aggregate enough sales for that campaign to warrant success," Cantu said. "You really can't do that many other places outside of RTB without brand safety."

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