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From Hackathon to Home: Saving Missing Children with Advertising Technology

May 17, 2019 — by Charlie Simon    

MediaMath’s promise to be a force for good permeates its business and employee culture, so much so that “Do good, better” is a formalized company value. That value, and our commitment to it, is demonstrably more than words.

In 2016, MediaMath founded MediaMath.org, a charitable arm dedicated to high-impact philanthropy. The following year, we doubled down by joining Pledge 1%, committing 1% of our time, technology and company equity to social good. We then decided to make “Social Impact” one of the five major categories in our 2017 and 2018 hackathons. A Social Impact entry won the overall vote in the 2017 hackathon. Additionally, in last year’s hackathon, nearly a fifth of all entries were submitted under Social Impact, and the winner in that category also went on to win the People’s Choice Award (as voted by MediaMath employees).

Today, MediaMath and MediaMath.org are excited to announce that the winning project in our 2018 Winter Hackathon—a proposal to integrate MediaMath with the Federation for Internet Alerts (FIA) in order to save missing children—is live in production.

We put forward an idea that did not end with a trophy but with a full-blown integration leveraging the power of MediaMath’s TerminalOne (T1) advertising platform to serve real-time, geolocated AMBER Alerts. These alert creatives replace advertisements on websites and feature far richer information than can be conveyed via the push messages on cell phones to which people are more accustomed. Specifically, the creatives can include photographs of missing children and their likely abductors, vehicles and license plates and other critical visual and textual information necessary to identifying and saving children as quickly as possible.

This integration was no small feat and could not have been accomplished without the invaluable support of Joe Zawadzki, MediaMath CEO, Jenna Griffith, COO, my hackathon teammates Karl Weiss, Director, Programmatic Strategy & Optimization, and Andrew Bannon, Associate, Site Reliability Engineer, and the extra hours put in by numerous other MediaMathers like Fotios ‘Fod’ Tzellos, Software Engineer, who told the MediaMath “All Hands” Slack channel that he was, “Super stoked to see this ticking. Proud to help make it a reality!” I’m stoked, too, about this passion project becoming a reality and quite literally helping to save children (and deter would-be abductors) with targeted advertising technology.

Of the integration, Jason Bier, President of the Federation for Internet Alerts, said, “MediaMath’s distribution of AMBER Alerts represents additional capacity to reach more Internet and mobile app users…I would like to thank MediaMath for joining FIA to distribute relevant, life-critical alerts about missing and abducted children and bring them home safely.”

Michael Quinn, Director of MediaMath.org, echoed this sentiment, saying, “This grassroots project is a fantastic example of how we can use marketing for good using our talent and technology. Congratulations and thank you to the team.”

With the project now under the stewardship of MediaMath.org, MediaMath looks forward to working with partners and clients to maximize reach and funding, saving children and reducing the nearly 200 AMBER Alerts issued in the United States every year. We also look forward to working with the FIA and fellow participants to expand missing child alerts to 29 more countries across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific regions in the months to come.

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