Lauren Nemeth, former head of sales for AppNexus, has joined Turn as chief revenue officer.
She arrives from a stint at Pinterest-owned mobile search engine URX, and will oversee sales, client services and consulting. Prior to her role at AppNexus, she helped build Google’s programmatic business alongside Bruce Falck, Turn’s CEO.
“We’re selling a complicated, full-stack DMP, DSP and analytics platform and Lauren has deep platform sales, as opposed to just media sales experience,” Falck said. “Having someone lead our revenue organization who can really advise and help direct brand customers we see as an imperative to help scale the company.”
Nemeth joins Turn at a pivotal point. A number of standalone DMPs and DSPs, including Krux and TubeMogul, were recently acquired.
And that means that the last of the independent DMP-DSP hybrids are in full-blown execution mode in an environment saturated withstrategic buyers.
AdExchanger spoke with Falck and Nemeth about how this transitional time affects Turn’s sales and revenue.
AdExchanger: Why are you bringing on a new CRO now?
BRUCE FALCK: We want to grow the business. [Nemeth] has the proven ability to grow really fast, high-performing sales teams in environments like AppNexus, which we view as a very similar play to Turn. My focus when I got to the company 14 months ago has been video, so Lauren will help us double down on that. Mobile is a big bet for us, and Lauren has super deep mobile expertise.
Assuming you’re remaining a standalone DMP-DSP, will you compete with or complement the big marketing clouds?
Falck: I think Adobe’s acquisition of TubeMogul was absolutely a validation of Turn’s strategy – that you’ve got to put a DSP and DMP together. Then the question is, what will Google do in this DMP space?
I do think the world does need an independent like Turn. We’re more competitive with Adobe now that they have Tube and more complementary to an IBM, SAP, Oracle or Salesforce. The other way to think about it is what do those four guys do to compete with Adobe? Anyone who wants to compete with Google needs a DSP component.
But do these companies want to compete on the media side, or just data?
Falck: Most marketing clouds have already recognized the need for a data management component, and I think we’ll see more consolidation of ad and marketing tech.
Now that the Adobe [DSP] deal happened, I think the seal has broken and it’s going to be really interesting to see what happens over the next couple of years. If you look at the companies – Google, Facebook, the four we just mentioned, and then Amazon, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat.
And certain foreign telecoms. (Laughs)
Falck: Right, and then AOL, Yahoo. Everyone’s basically skating in the same direction and that’s why I always say it’s early days in programmatic because I think this thing has barely gotten started.
Lauren, what perspectives from Google and AppNexus will you bring to a buy-side sales role?
LAUREN NEMETH: A deep understanding of the ecosystem and programmatic landscape. Turn’s played really effectively on the brand side working with quality, direct advertisers and running them along quality supply sources. It’s figuring out whether we buy through private marketplaces or direct connections, how do we improve our relationships with the supply side. And what that consideration looks like in an omnichannel way.
Does Turn have differentiated inventory access, particularly with video?
Falck: I don’t really think DSPs will differentiate through inventory access unless you’re Facebook or Google and you have proprietary access to inventory. I think of us solving a problem for the marketer, which is letting them buy an end-user omnichannel. And one of those channels is video.
Two years ago there were a lot of supply constraints with video, where you had to do programmatic guarantees to get the good supply. Now video supply is going to accelerate rapidly because publishers can make a lot of money from video.
If more consumers are watching OTT, we should get that supply. If it’s Facebook video, [we should get] that supply. It’s our job as a DSP to prioritize by where you can reach the end user the most.
If the DSP isn’t differentiated by inventory, is it commoditized?
Falck: I’m a computer scientist and it makes me cringe when people say DSPs are commodities. When Google came along, you could have easily said, “Search engines are commoditized! They’re all crap!”
Google builds a better algorithm and it turns out search engines are not commoditized. Our computer scientists at Turn believe we can build a better algorithm. Some of the work we’ve done on video, we’ve figured out how to algorithmically optimize for in-view impressions across Moat, Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify. No one else can do that today.
How has your DMP use case changed?
Falck: The DMP started out being built for agency trading desks; at least, that was true in our case. Pretty quickly, brands started to realize this was their data. People are realizing it’s not just about media execution, but having an understanding of all of the conversations you’re having with your customers online and offline.
Outside of the Krux acquisition, you are going to see a lot of people emphasize the DMP. But for us, it’s driven by customer demand, not the Krux acquisition.
What types of executives are involved in the DMP selection process now?
Falck: When you’re doing a software sale into an enterprise, the CFO and procurement team and IT folks get involved. And one of the reasons we hired Lauren is she grew up selling ad servers, which is quite similar to selling a DMP. Both are software. We see a longer sales cycle when online and offline data come together into a single repository. It’s a complicated sale.
How do customers first come into contact with Turn? Is it via your DMP or DSP?
Falck: We are seeing more cases where somebody is just buying a DMP, and we won a couple of those this year. And then there’s still cases where it starts with the DSP. Some people want the whole enchilada. Our direct-to-brand revenue is up 60% this year. Our video revenue is up 60% this year. And our DMP and analytics revenue is up 25% this year. I would say that the DSP is the vast majority of our business in dollar volume, but the DMP is strategically more important.
Lauren, what’s one challenge awaiting you at Turn?
Nemeth: The hard part is what I’m paid to do: execution. And right now there’s a huge customer base that’s really interesting, from Colgate to Kraft. I think there’s a ton of growth opportunity within those specific accounts and internationally. There’s a lot of greenfield for Turn to go after.
What’s Turn’s vision?
Falck: Our vision is to build a platform that allows you to reach Bruce online, or any of us. A consumer lives across all channels, publishers and devices and it’s our job to connect the buyer with that consumer across that supply. I would imagine there will be lots of way to get to that supply, whether it’s RTB, PMPs, programmatic direct, programmatic guaranteed.
But I think we need to get away from this notion that programmatic is just RTB and start understanding that these buying platforms will just reach users online and, ideally, I would like our platforms to see every impression on the internet in real time because that is what the marketer wants to do.
Interview has been condensed and edited.