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Former TV Buyer Gordon Gets With Programmatic

As a managing director at giant media buyer Magna Global, Todd Gordon was one of the most influential buyers of television advertising.

In November, he jumped to programmatic ad company TubeMogul as general manager of programmatic TV.

TV is becoming a much bigger art of TubeMogul’s portfolio. The company started its programmatic TV business a year ago and now it says $10 million, or 10% of the ad money that goes through its software is linear TV.

Gordon says he enjoyed agency life for 20 years, even with the challenges presented by clients daily. “Over the past few years, I’ve been focusing more on technology and more on automation, and ways to use data to be smarter in TV,” he says.

Gordon was a key part of Magna Global’s push to automate 50% of the agency’s business. Over the past few years, Magna and its parent company, Interpublic Group’s MediaBrands, wrote the book on programmatic, compiling some of key stats and producing influential forecasts.

While doing that, TubeMogul was a big partner for IPG. “These guys build great software. They’re totally focused on the buy side. They don’t own any inventory. They are not part of a big media company,” he says.

That made TubeMogul “well positioned to make a difference in how TV is bought and sold,” he says. And that made the opportunity to move there too good to pass up, Gordon says.

Gordon adds to the equation at TubeMogul, especially in talking to television clients.

“TubeMogul has always been a software-centric company. The founders of the company have been very good at solving advertiser problems through software,” says CEO Brett Wilson. “But with Todd, he brings in a lot of relationships and street cred that we didn’t have on our own.”

Wilson says TubeMogul was already getting a good reception from advertisers and from agency executives like Gordon.

“What’s happened in the course of a year is there’s just been an outpouring of interest and demand from advertisers and it stems from the fact that for most advertisers, TV is still the largest part of their ad buy, maybe 50-60-70% of their ad buy. And the idea that they could be more efficient and automated and intelligent with that big bucket of their ad spend is incredibly compelling,” he says.

TubeMogul recently did deals with Cox Cable and Dish Network. Earlier this year, it bought local spots in the Super Bowl and Oscar telecasts.

With Gordon, who has already begun meeting with clients, this will move even more quickly. “There were a lot of advertisers where the doors were already,” Wilson says. “Todd’s come in and taken over the conversation. I think he’s got a good perspective on the challenges that brands, agencies and technology companies all face. He’s helping us represent ourselves in a way that helps solve problems for all those constituents.”

Armed with billions of dollars in ad spending by Interpublic clients, Gordon was in a good spot to put his money where his mouth was in terms of supporting programmatic efforts. And he says he’s still working closely with IPG to help it realize its automation mission.

But Gordon says that shift has its own momentum.

“Without question, without demand from clients and from agencies to do things in different ways that could be smarter and use data, like this, doesn’t go anywhere,” Gordon says.

“I just think that when you look at the tools that are in your hands to make great decisions for clients, they’ve gotten better, but we do a lot of business the same way it was done 20 years ago. And it’s just not good enough to navigate this complex environment,” he says. “You see every day clients investing in data, thinking more strategically. That world is changing and I feel Tube’s in a position to help both clients and agencies navigate that.”

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.