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Programmatic Ad Firm Staffs Up As Business Grows

Programmatic advertising is supposed to automate the media buying process, yet AdMore is in a race to add salespeople.

And rather than living in a virtual world, the company, whose programmatic platform can access inventory from 1,700 local stations, cable networks, cable systems, interconnects and syndicators, is opening an actual office in Chicago.

Programmatic advertising has become one of the biggest buzzwords in the industry. Advertisers and their agencies see the technology making their campaigns more efficient and effective. Big media companies are looking for ways to use data to help clients better define the reach of their target while maximizing revenue.

The shift in priorities may have contributed to a weak upfront ad market as advertisers withheld making long-term spending commitments while experimenting with data-driven and digital alternatives.

One of the beneficiaries is AdMore, and Brendan Condon, CEO of AdMore and its parent company Media Properties Holdings, says business is booming. He says that in the first quarter of 2015, AdMore’s volume exceeded the total for all of 2014. And business in the second quarter doubled first-quarter volume.

“I can’t talk about Q3 because we’re not done yet, but it’s looking like that pace is continuing. And that’s not off a small base,” says Condon, who declined to provide specific figures but said quarterly volume was in the eight-figure range.

Future growth will be fueled by a new partnership with TubeMogul, which will connect agencies and advertisers using its programmatic platform to the audiences AdMore has aggregated.

“One of the things we recognize is there are a lot of digital buyers out there that are looking at television” as a way to extend the audiences they reach, Condon says. “It’s not easy for them to understand traditional TV buying or to get access to the TV buying agencies. They just don’t know how to do it because they’re born-and-bred digital players.”

The Right Connections

Those digital buyers are already connected to TubeMogul. “My sales team doesn’t have readily available access to those decision makers, so I’m happy to use the TubeMogul platform as a partnership to provide that solution for those digital buyers,” he says.

“What we’re doing with them is trying to provide our customers with a true cross-screen capability where they can come to the TubeMogul platform and execute a buy across video, mobile, social and TV,” says TubeMogul senior director of TV strategy Oscar Rondon. “Those people that typically buy digital, we’re giving them a TV buy so they can assess the performance of a TV buy. It’s very efficient if they’re able to purchase that through our platform and using the AdMore currency.”

But AdMore is also seeing increased demand from the traditional ad agencies and clients it works with who want to reach the audiences programmatic technology can find and connect them with. Some of those clients have their own in-house media buying teams.

“Their clients are getting increasingly sophisticated, saying, ‘Hey, what about these audiences that I’m hearing about and reading about. How can we get to them because there’s so much fragmentation in both the viewership and the content proliferation out there?’ Nobody can do it all without leveraging technology,” Condon says. “I think if in-house shops and these agencies don’t have that technology readily available, how else are they going to reach them? So they have to use businesses like ours.”

Clients test AdMore to see if it can execute plans and deliver those audiences. And when it beats expectations, the business gets renewed and budgets increase dramatically from five-digit tests to six-and seven-digit full campaign executions.

A Good Problem to Have at AdMore

To meet the growing demand for its programmatic services, AdMore has the desirable problem of having to staff up.

“I’ve got to make sure that I’ve got feet on the street in the major markets where we’re seeing the greatest interest in programmatic television advertising, whether that’s in-house at the large CPGs [consumer packaged goods companies] or the TV buying groups at their respective agencies in the Midwest, the East Coast or on the West Coast,” Condon says.

And while the programmatic ad process is automated, getting clients to understand it is not. AdMore’s salespeople have to “evangelize” what the company does and be able to make sure the company continues to exceed client expectations.

And programmatic doesn’t necessarily put traditional buyers and planners out of work. “I think of it as facilitating the sales process. It’s enabling the buyers and the planners on the agency side to spend more time thinking strategically about how to better utilize the budgets,” says Condon.

In Chicago, AdMore’s new office will be headed by Kimberly Schraw, who has been named director of AdMore sales, Midwest. Schraw had been Midwest sales director for RMG Mall Media Networks and has worked at agencies including J. Walter Thompson and TV networks including the WEB and Court TV. Schraw will be responsible for developing strategic relationships with major Midwest agencies and advertisers including Kraft Foods and Kellogg’s that have recently moved some programmatic activity in-house.

Also joining AdMore are Melissa Rivera-Renet, who will be director of the AdMore Platform working out of AdMore’s Temecula, Calif., headquarters, and Waleed Khabbaz, who will be director of sales in New York.

Rivera-Renet had been director of research at research and technology company Toluna in London. She will be responsible for supervising all platform development and operations for AdMore’s proprietary television advertising management and distribution systems.

Khabbaz had been director of sales for programmatic television at Comcast’s AudienceXpress unit. Earlier he had been a distribution executive at CBS.

Programmatic advertising makes some traditional media executive nervous. They are concerned that their ad inventory will be commoditized and have seen how prices dropped precipitously in the online display market.

But Condon says that programmatic buying creates incremental media streams for its media partners.

“If you look at the inventory they’re providing, oftentimes it’s either undervalued or not sold,” he said.

Condon was at back in the day when digital ad networks depressed ad revenues.

“TV can learn from those mistakes and opt to participate only when it makes sense for them. And that’s what me and my team are talking to them about and that’s why it’s working for them.”

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.