Ratko Vidakovic grew up in Toronto dreaming of running big Internet servers — i.e., being in I.T., on a grand scale. As a teenager in the ’90s his dream came true, and he found himself doing tech support and eventually working as a sys-admin at companies like VMWare and Pepsi. His intro to ad tech came “by accident” — a common theme — as he and a friend ran a website on the side called ToyotaNation.com. It was (as you might guess) aimed at Toyota enthusiasts, of which Ratko and his friend were two. Loving their finely-machined Camrys and wanting to connect with the similar-minded around the world, they published a site that taught them the pleasures and perils of publishing and ads. They sold the site because Google changed its algorithm and they learned first-hand the dangers of being an unwitting dependent.
Inspired by the ease of Facebook’s and Google’s self-serve platforms, Ratko and some friends founded SiteScout to be an SMB-friendly and lower-cost ad server. Discovering Rubicon’s API, it then became a DSP and grew to about $20 million in run-rate before being acquired by Centro in 2013. Ratko helped adapt SiteScout to Centro’s model and culture before going out on his own again to co-found AdProfs, a programmatic consultancy and content machine. He’s known as the author of a 13,000-subscriber newsletter called “This Week In Ad Tech.” You can find out more about AdProfs here.
In this conversation, Ratko tells Marty and Jill about his favorite Canadian artists and ad tech luminaries, the stray housecat at SiteScout’s first two-family house/office, and why he thought SiteScout could compete against entrenched players such as DoubleClick, ATLAS, Turn and MediaMath. He also explains why you haven’t seen “This Week In Ad Tech” recently – and why it’s coming back.