James Curran has spent the last decade working in and building ad platforms. As former product and business development lead for Lotame’s Data Management Platform and a product manager for Advertising.com, James has seen a historical trend in the use of multiple ad platforms by companies and believes it points to where they will be taken in the future. His new company, where he serves as CEO and Co-Founder is called STAQ, which he believes is the catalyst in making them working together.
Tim Nichols: Integration of ad technologies. How and when did you come to this as a solution to offer?
JC: Honestly, I think the seed was planted way back in the Ad.com days. Right after the acquisition by Aol, we planned this big project to pull all our products in each medium together and be a “one stop performance shop”. Acquisitions were made in video and mobile and a massive project went underway, with a ton of technical contractors. Back then, integrating everything meant almost an entire rebuild. I happened to join Lotame at this time and later, I found every platform we talked to wanted to integrate. Every meeting ended with both companies saying “You know what would be great for our customers? If we could do X!”
Tim Nichols: So what would happen?
JC: Every conversation ranged from a “hand shake and a nod” to talks of a full blown merger of the technology. In all cases, there are issues of man power, the current tech obligations for each party, leadership of the integration, costs and sometimes even a conflict. Both technologies wanted to work together and saw the benefit for the end clients, but these issues are hard to overcome. Even if one party has one hurdle, it falls apart. In the end it is the clients who suffer.
Many integrations did happen though and you can see this across the ecosystem. Premium partnerships, modules, apps.
Tim Nichols: There are companies building a complete integrated stack solution, like Google. What is your view on this?
JC: I look at the integrated solution offering like iOS. You need to use everything they offer to get the advantage of having an all in one suite. There are downsides to this, such as changing out your ad server, re-pixeling and organizing all your data, or hoping your new analytics data matches up on the other side. And when new tech comes along, you need to wait for your all in one solution to provide it. There’s conflict for them to integrate with another any other company’s piece of the stack, so they will never do it.
The best of breed stacks are more like Android, built and adapted to fit each client’s business needs. There is always something new and better that comes along and clients have the choice of who to work with. Each tech provider is in competition, so pricing stays low and they are focused on the one thing they do well. Clients should be able to keep the tech stack they are using now and have it plug into the rest of their stack. That’s what we do.
Tim Nichols: How do the platforms see this?
JC: They love it. In fact, some platforms are becoming clients themselves. We want to set up all those cool things for them that they think about in business development meetings, so they can focus on their products and how an integration may help their users. They also know that we’ll never compete with them so they’ll work with us. For example, we’ll never build a bidder for RTB, an ad server or a CRM solution. When a client needs one of these things, we bring them to the platforms.
Tim Nichols: What are the things that make you most excited about doing this?
JC: Leaping over those hurdles that prevent these integrations from happening and then seeing the clients benefitting from all the great things ad tech providers can do with for them with it.
Tim Nichols: Thanks James!