26 Nov 2012

We are a technology company - but with 3 major BS-free differences

Declaring one's self as a technology company feels somewhat dirty in the digital media space, mostly because the primary audience, media planners, don't really care. What they want is a solution that works, no fluff, no bloated feature set and certainly no bullshit. And as an industry, what a lot of bullshit we create! We seem to have algorithms for everything today, competitions about how many petabytes of data we process and a long, long string of TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) to drown any meaningful message. It's a noisy space that only those who are deep within it can listen to with any level of comprehension.

And so as a company, we built solutions. Sure, 75% of our company has always been engineering and R&D, but it is the Solutions we presented to the market. And it serves us very, very well. A Solution speaks to a problem and is therefore easy to buy. We started by first solving PROSPECTING by reinventing Search Retargeting, taking a good idea and actually making it work. We built the real technology rather than relying on the vaporware of others, actually finding ways to process more search events in a month than Yahoo! and Bing combined, not faking some contextual targeting system (which would have been a lot, lot easier!). And when scale became an issue, we built more technology to find more data, instead of filling our campaigns with site retargeting for extra impressions. That matters when the buyers get savvy and start questioning exactly what sits behind the companies that call themselves our competitors.

With our technology expansion, our client's grew and grew and become engaged with us in ways that we couldn't have predicted. Trading desks at holding companies who had previously told us they would only buy our data (not bundled with the media) came knocking, realizing what a difference all that technology meant. We had quietly been building the most granular, scalable and flexible media management and buying platform in the world, and as others start to talk about the future of 'Programmatic Marketing', we look into our history and see we created that some time ago.

Programmatic is not a bullshit term, it is real and perhaps what we have always been waiting for in digital media buying; it delivers in part on the early promises of complete control and almost non-existent wastage. In brief, Programmatic allows marketers to discover more data (or big data as people like to call it today) and make it actionable for marketing purposes in a manageable way. Just understanding it can be tricky, using it can be even more so. You can't deliver on the promise of 'programmatic' with a generic DSP or DMP, it is a foundational approach that had to have been planned for.

We had to plan for this - we wanted to get Search Retargeting right, which is only possible when you combine 7+ billion search events a month with 400k QPS (sorry, acronym) and thousands of keywords from our clients. You can't do that sitting on top of someone else's technology, and you certainly can't do it by combining one company's DSP with the DMP of another. We talk to CMOs every week who have tried that approach and they talk about cookie loss of up to 40%, a lack of control, and data that is frequently 24 hours out of date.

When we realized we had accomplished the goal of solving Programmatic, we turned that power to fixing the broken model of site retargeting. (YAWN) Yeah I know, site retargeting again. That's what we thought, until one smart client challenged us to make it better. So we did, and the second problem we solved was the efficient generation of CONVERSIONS by targeting existing site visitors and customers. We call it Programmatic SIte Retargeting because it uses more data (or big data if you prefer) to remove the bloated wastage typically found in such programs. We don't just show customized ads to individuals who have browsed certain products, we actually process all the data we can in real-time and determine if to target that person, and at what price. As an example, for a home supply company, we care more about the Friday PM visitor searching for a new kitchen, than the Sunday AM visitor looking for tips on how to hang wallpaper. It just makes sense.

And then along came our big announcement last week of our $12m in funding. We are going to use that money in part to hire even more engineers to solve more problems using our Programmatic approach. The next to market is Programmatic Social, already getting a lot of traction, (but if you are not a client, you will have to wait a little longer for the details).

What about those 3 major differences? Hopefully they are obvious now, but if not:

1. We don't speak bullshit. Sure you will catch us using the acronyms of the industry, and I challenge anyone to a TLA throw down, but generally speaking, our clients love us because we keep it simple yet smart.

2. We provide solutions. No matter how much technology we build, we will always wrap it in a nice cuddly, warm blanket of service loveliness for those that want it. We don't just have people disguised as AMs who are actually optimizers, we have real marketers or agency folks who are incentivized by your success and happiness, and they sit in an entirely different group to the optimizers who are looking after your campaigns day to day. Sure we may have this big engine powering pixels on your behalf, but all you need to know is that we will be solving the problems you task us with. Oh, and you can come see the engine itself too if you wish!

3. We innovate. This is not our first rodeo. We have over 100 years experience in digital technology / media in the management team alone. As a group we have coded the world's first virtual fish tank, created the world's first free ISP, redefined media buying with a Performance approach and built one of the first ever social platforms before social was a 'thing'. We have backers that have seen more than most of us ever will, clients that trust us and challenge us equally and a team that cases for success more than any other business I have been involved in. We don't rest on putting together systems using others work, we build from scratch wherever we can, throwing out old ways of thinking and creating something that is better. 

Right now, Chango is known primarily for Search Retargeting, but for the handful of top 50 web properties that have turned to us for our Programmatic Marketing Platform to power their buying and big data, we are known as the very backbone for the next ten years of their business. 

1 comment:

Anne Smith said...

Great article. I think customers really appreciate a decent and honest approach and when that is combined with a good product/service it will always be appreciated.