About 90 days ago I announced here that I had quit my agency job to join Chango as Chief Revenue Officer. This is the insider scoop.
Firstly, the transition from agency life to supply side is not as big a change as the switch from supply side to agency life was 4 years ago. Back then I was running the European arm of Bluestreak (an ad serving and email delivery company) providing technology and services to agencies and the occasional direct brand, and through a failed acquisition of that company, I ended up at iCrossing.
Four years ago we had clearer definitions in this industry - a technology company provided tech to agencies, agencies looked after brands and their strategies, media owners sold media, and analytics platforms provided the results. Now it seems everyone is trying to race to the middle - agencies are building trading desks, DSPs are becoming agencies on the side, technologies like ad serving are being bought directly by the brand, and media owners are giving away creative for the campaign.
So there is no longer any big shift in day to day work life when moving between one area of our industry to another - except I have to buy the gifts for the agencies now, rather than them just arriving on my desk!
Secondly, it is awesome to walk into all these agencies that I competed against for so long and see under their covers! One word - lobby - it seems today that you cannot be respected as an agency without a kick ass lobby! Fill it full of retro computer gear, cool lighting effects, attractive employees or space age furniture and you are on to a winner.
Those agency visits also bring forward the realization that the business of being an agency is tough to the point that no one has it figured out. That does not mean the agencies I visit are not good, far from in fact, it just means being a master of everything seems impossible.
Thirdly, we might just work in the most complex industry ecosystem out there. I feel for the new people entering our World because they have so much to catchup on. I wonder to what extent they teach students the history of why and how exchanges came about for instance?
But what about Chango itself?
The company sits at the perfect intersection between the two divided ranks of our industry - the 'who' and the 'where'. It used to be that you would pick a site to advertise on based on some demographic information, and then do a deal to place your ads there. What you were buying was both the who and the where. It was very simple.
But then the exchanges came about and the media became available 'raw' - it was the where, but it lacked the who. And so along came data companies to supplement the campaign with that information and the division continued.
Today the trading desks are the end result, using DSP technology to buy the media that a 3rd party data source has determined to have a value to the campaign, typically to generate an ROI.
ROI comes from spotting and understanding the right behaviors
Those behaviors = intent
The most literal example of intent expression comes from search...
And it's on that basis Chango was founded - use the literal expression of intent from search to determine the who. And the first 90 days have demonstrated over and over again that the theory is accurate and it has resulted in our best ever business quarter.
But what I have also learnt is how important it is to have control of the where. Good data is great, but married with full optimization control of the media, the results are amplified. In our case we take a great idea, Search Retargeting, and make it great with full proprietary RTB capabilities.
We don't have everything right yet, but we have retailers getting north of 25:1 ROI, and a team that is doing things no one else is even thinking of yet. And if we had everything done, what fun would there be to have in Q2!
The first 90 days have been great, it was an awesome decision.
And to top it off, Chango has been selected as one of the 4 most innovative companies and will be appearing at AdTech to compete for the title. Come say hi.