Advertising Technology

Andrew Casale on the Human Element in Real Time Buying

The Makegood is pleased to welcome Andrew Casale as a regular contributor. Look for his column the first Thursday of every month.

Andrew is the VP of Strategy at Casale Media and we recently spoke with him about his experience working at Casale over the last 11+ years and where the company is headed now.

The Makegood: Andrew, you’ve been working in digital media and publishing since the late 1990s and 2000s. How did you get involved in digital media so early on and what continues to attract you to the space?

AC: It all started with building websites to create an audience and then monetizing that audience. At the time we would iterate from one idea and website to the next, each one building a larger following and a bigger audience. Display ads were our means to monetize the sites and without the sales resources of a major publisher, we turned to ad networks for help.

Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s the landscape was nothing like it is today. A small handful of players controlled the market and as a publisher you were typically just a number: collecting your check and mostly remaining in the dark about the process. Throughout the years we established a network of like-minded publishers who desired options in the market that were nowhere to be found, and, being a company who had already been in computing technologies for 30+ years, we set out to build an alternative platform that would arm publishers with more transparency, revenue and control.

We’ve partnered with extraordinary publishers from their humblest beginnings, when our relationship with them helped keep the lights on, through incredible growth periods. It’s been an amazing ride so far with much transformation, and I’m still just as engaged as I’ve ever been.

The Makegood: Over the past couple of years, Casale has ramped up efforts to deliver a RTB offering. What is on the horizon for the future of the company?

AC: For Casale Media, moving into the real-time bidding world has been truly evolutionary. The process began about three years ago when media agencies communicated to us that they were seeing a shift in the way media dollars were going to be allocated to the ad network/exchange category. As demand side platforms (DSPs) emerged, the buying community appreciated the control DSPs provided because it empowered them, and the value of that empowerment was going to grow in the years ahead. We saw RTB as a key additional layer that our clients desired and as such we reached out to the earliest DSPs to assess what it would take to facilitate RTB transactions. This paved the way for the RTB platform that we built and maintain today. Our platform is directly integrated into all major DSPs; the same ones being used by the media agencies that gave us the early indicator about the growing importance of RTB.

The Makegood: Recently, Casale Media has evolved into more of a B2B tech company and seems to be moving away from the ad network offering. Why the strategic change of direction and what kind of value does this bring to current and perspective clients?

AC: Our evolution is at pace with the needs of our clients. We have many long-term clients, mostly mid size and direct advertisers, who still use our ad network for the managed service it provides them. With the larger agency holding companies, we’ve seen a bigger shift to the RTB model. To accommodate that shift, Casale has started to move from a pure play managed service, like an ad network, to a platform where we provide the infrastructure for publishers to facilitate transactions with the buy side in a fully automated programmatic model. In that model we’ve handed our ad sales hat to the publishers who have opted to take an additional level of control over how their unallocated impressions are sold.

The Makegood: Casale’s approach to RTB is different from other offerings in its “human contact” aspect. Can you explain how this works?

AC: RTB can be a very cold model in the sense that at its core, robots iterate hundreds of thousands of impressions per second and buying occurs based on science alone. For Casale, everything that brought us into RTB started with humans, and we haven’t lost sight of that.

We are really excited about private marketplaces being built on our platform by publishers. These private marketplaces are giving publishers a seat at the table with agency trading desks and independent desks, enabling them to have a conversation about why their inventory supply is unique and differentiated and, in a way, lift their impressions out of the massive RTB pool that the demand side buys from today. Technology plays a big role in this so our product roadmap has focused on syncing with DSPs to facilitate private marketplace transactions down to the direct deal level where very granular line items — not unlike those that would traditionally fall on an insertion order — can now be bought and sold via RTB. When this technology is coupled with publishers carving out their highest value placements to make them exclusively available for private buys, it creates a new slice of value in their monetization strategy that was never there before. RTB is all still transacted by robots, but in a private buying environment it’s guided more by humans than the transactions that are typically conducted in the open market model.

The Makegood: Thanks, Andrew.