Andy Monfried is the Founder and CEO of Lotame, a leading Data Management Platform. Prior to founding Lotame in 2006, Andy was responsible for building the New York office of Advertising.com (now AOL Advertising). We recently spoke with Andy about Lotame’s history and the DMP landscape.
The Makegood: Andy, tell us a bit about your background and passion for digital advertising.
I’m a fiercely passionate person who understands how to exploit data to maximize results in online advertising, is driven to share ideas with our marketer and publisher clients, and who believes deeply in both bright transparency and superior results.
Before founding Lotame in 2006, I spent six years helping to build Advertising.com into the largest ad network in the industry. While at Ad.com I noticed the explosion of available inventory and data available from all of the newly launched social networking sites. No one knew what to do with it, so it largely went to networks like Ad.com for pennies. A few years later, I founded Lotame to turn that data into useful, valuable information, essential for making data-driven advertising decisions in the new, burgeoning online advertising business. Thanks to analytics, and to the thoughtful interpretation of those analytics, we were able to marginalize what initially drove online advertising decisions: “gut feel,” “instinct” and even “years of experience” in the traditional advertising business.
The Makegood: You made a heroic change to your business recently – walking away from revenue. Why did Lotame do that, and how did you rebuild the company?
After we built Crowd Control’s first version in 2006, we shopped it around as an audience platform, but the landscape wasn’t ready to manage data yet. That’s why we leveraged the platform ourselves to build a successful ad network. In 2010, we saw the need for the platform itself, and we shifted our focus to making Crowd Control a standalone offering, well before the ad-network closure. We saw that not only are DMPs going to be the future for web data, but they’re also going to be central to *every* business. It’s going to be content optimization, CRM, call center, product placement, video and soon mobile. This may not happen fully for another five years, but our system is built to ingest that data and use it now. Many big companies are looking for a solution to unify all of their data from many different sources under one umbrella – to view it, learn from it and activate it to drive results.
We were doing tens of millions of dollars in ad network revenue, and we let it all go, We knew that the future value was going to be in the platform, as used by major companies and publishers. A good example of this is the proliferation of DART, relative to the DoubleClick ad network business in the early 2000s. To walk away from all that revenue, it requires a strong stomach, good people around you – and confidence in what you have built. I had all of those things and more… and, I trusted my instincts.
It hurts to make a change like that. You have to let good people go. Our clients – publishers and advertisers — needed our technology a lot more than the industry needed another successful ad network. It was necessary to focus our talent on the product and the technology we offer, and I think that focus shines brightly with the iteration of Crowd Control that is on the market today.
I wanted us to be 100% focused on being a DMP. So we rebuilt the company as a SaaS-oriented company focused on business solutions for our clients. We’re all about integration and white-glove service. Every company we work with has its own goals, systems and processes. We need to fit their businesses, rather than expect them to fit ours. We hired integration experts and a crack service team that customizes Crowd Control to fit neatly into our clients business.
The Makegood: How will the online advertising ecosystem change because of DMPs? What do tools like yours mean for the rest of the landscape?
DMPs level the playing field for parts of the ecosystem that had by and large been passive participants until now. Sophisticated ad networks have been leveraging much of the DMP toolset for years, but publishers and brand marketers have been unable to benefit directly from this intelligence and power. DMPs like ours bring that power back to marketers and publishers by making big data problems easily accessible.
Our DMP also allows companies with data to sell it directly into the market, easily. The market for data will disaggregate in the coming years, as publishers become data providers and data exchanges. The big change is that audiences and data are already in the conversation. The next big step is platform integrations, the sharing of proprietary data between publishers, and making audiences sold truly targeted across ALL forms of media in real time.
And there’s more to come, because a good DMP is at its core a unifying platform. A true Unifying Data Platform brings in data from six or seven sources simultaneously, and makes that data actionable beyond simple web retargeting. We’re growing rapidly across Europe and Asia, and have made significant investments in infrastructure. Growth has been exponential. Some of our biggest clients are overseas. We didn’t expect that, but it’s what we’re seeing. These clients will set the market in their locations for third-party data sales, as the concept of “data separate from media” moves east.
The Makegood: Can you talk about some of your new & transitioning clients?
We’re collecting, segmenting, making use of managing and monetizing data for a number of big companies, giving them effective, revenue-boosting audience insights at scale. We can name some of those companies: Break Media, BlogHer, Photobucket, leading political consultancy Targeted Victory, and InvestingChannel. Some we can’t yet name, including a massive U.S.-based entertainment company, a very large U.S.-based publisher, one of the largest ad networks in Asia, a large health-information company, and a massive media company in Europe.
The Makegood: What’s ahead in 2012?
In the very near future, we’ll see DMPs going far beyond simple display-ad targeting and Direct Response optimization. A true DMP is larger and more powerful than that. As MediaPost’s Laurie Sullivan was first to report, the G.O.A.L. feature we just released melds brand lift with optimization. Later this year, we’ll launch cross-platform data-management capabilities that will greatly extend Crowd Control’s reach — and therefore its strength. We’re looking forward to unifying all kinds of data — offline, online, CRM, CMS, and so on — under one powerful umbrella. That’s what we see for the DMP.
The Makegood: Thanks, Andy.