Andrew Zeiger, the new Chief Revenue Officer of the Americas for PubMatic, brings 20 years of experience with top publishing companies like CNET, technology companies like the Geeknet and data companies like RichRelevance. At PubMatic he will oversee revenue operations, strategic account development, and be responsible for devising innovative solutions to drive continued growth in North and South America. He discussed the opportunities he sees for PubMatic clients and how he can help them meet their goals.
Why come to a company like PubMatic now?
Two reasons: PubMatic is filled with smart people and truly has a culture of innovation. PubMatic has already established leadership through innovation in an industry space that has sorely needed it as the pace of changing models and growing demand accelerates. As programmatic buying and selling become more important in the advertising ecosystem, I’m convinced that PubMatic will be the real-time engine that drives the industry forward for publishers and demand partners while creating a more useful consumer experience.
How did your background prepare you for your role at PubMatic?
I see this role as the culmination of my experience. I started on the agency side and lived and breathed the whole buying process. Then I spent the better part of 20 years on the publishing side. I understand what the publisher pain points are and the solutions that are needed. One thing that has been a recurring theme in my career has been creating value for consumers and, consequently creating an environment that allows for a positive interaction between consumers and brands. This is an important focus for PubMatic as we continue to create value for all constituencies in the marketing equation.
What is the biggest challenge for publishers today in terms of revenue generation?
Traditional publishers are still working on a model of a direct sales force exclusively representing their inventory. While there will always be an important place for that, it simply does not scale to the extent that publishers and demand partners require in an increasingly fast paced environment requiring real-time decision making and execution. Most often publisher’s inventory is left underutilized and under valued. What has been lacking in the rapidly changing world of programmatic sales are insights and innovations on both the publisher and demand sides. They have to be able to understand the value of tier-two inventory. When you become a data centric company – which is what all publishers have to develop expertise in – you unlock the value, increase revenue and improve results. There has also been a total shift in terms of the speed that automation brings to the market. We all know how hard it is to accurately predict and monetize spikes in inventory volume, but RTB can solve those issues. Direct teams just cannot respond with the timing required in today’s market.
What excites you about programmatic buying and selling?
It’s bringing an intelligence and value to the consumer that is really difficult to do in a non-automated way. We can also accelerate a marketer’s time to market with technology solutions that match the right message to the right individual. It’s positive for everyone involved.
Many publishers fear commoditization; how can you help them understand that RTB is not a race to the bottom?
PubMatic has done a great job on the data side. They are bringing value to what has been considered remnant. RTB is bringing intelligence to an unsorted mass of inventory. For too long it’s been a price story as there was little visibility into what you were getting. As recent data from PubMatic shows, RTB doubled CPMs over what publishers could get from ad networks in Q4. Private Marketplaces – which offer huge benefits in terms of transparency — increased CPMs dramatically over traditional ad network buys. Advertisers are coming on board as they are getting the quality inventory that’s just not identifiable in exchanges. PubMatic does an excellent job of balancing the needs of both publishers and advertisers.
There’s been a lot of discussion of programmatic premium. How do you define it and what do you think publishers need to understand about it?
It’s early and we’re still getting the market used to the idea that the direct sale can be augmented with programmatic. Advancements in programmatic premium such as Private Marketplaces have facilitated strategic direct deals to get more creative in their own time. Everyone in the equation wins.
PubMatic’s ultimate goal is the concept of unified optimization: using the platform to evaluate all inventory sales. Yet, many publishers still fear the cannibalization of the high CPMs of their direct sales through such an approach.
We need to expose exactly what unified optimization means. There are lots of reasons why publishers might want to allocate or do deals. Unified optimization is being able to look at all inventory and allocate what you send to whom. What is the availability? What are the pricing thresholds? When you take the distinct use scenario and say this portion is only for direct, this is for programmatic, you ultimately leave money on the table. Unified optimization will ultimately be adopted as publishers realize that it will provide a marketplace intelligence that just wasn’t there and that is demanded by the changing way that advertisers want to buy media.
Their focus has always been on premium publications. They stand for a high level of quality in the marketplace. And the science and the algorithms are really strong. They’ve invested far more in engineering than many of their competitors. They’ve also brought security measures and data protection that are critical to the health of the industry.
Mobile is the hot area of growth in digital advertising; how do you see PubMatic helping publishers increase revenue in this nascent area?
PubMatic is taking a holistic approach and providing the same tool set for mobile as for the online marketplace in general. From the traditional screen, to tablets, to the new Windows machines that are crossing over – the same value proposition still exists. Buyers will increasingly want cross-platform digital and PubMatic will be able to provide it.
You’ll be based in PubMatic’s Redwood City office. We assume you will be doing lots of traveling.
I like and need to be in front of customers – it’s how a lot of great ideas and possibilities are fleshed out. Chief Revenue Officer is not a job done sitting behind a desk. Besides, I grew up in New York but left 20 years ago. It will be great to be working with clients there and all over the country.