21. Mark Zagorski – eXelate, Telaria & DoubleVerify

Mark Zagorski is a tenured ad tech CEO, having led eXelate (acquired by Nielsen), Telaria (later Magnite) and currently DoubleVerify. But more than that, he’s a true ad tech O.G., joining pioneering agency Modem Media/Poppe Tyson as an A.E. in the mid-’90s right as digital ads were getting started. (For more on Poppe Tyson, check out this episode.)

As Mark tells Marty and Jill in this career-spanning saga, he started life in NYC wanting to work for Spin magazine, going so far as to sneak into their offices to drop a resume. Spin looked elsewhere, so he joined some brands after business school as a manager. At Honeywell, his boss asked him to help build a website for this new thing called the Internet, and he enrolled in a class at the Learning Annex.

Visiting Honeywell’s agency one day, he heard that an upstairs neighbor was hiring — this was the legendary Poppe Tyson, which merged with Modem Media to bolster its media buying capabilities. At PT/MM, Mark saw the explosion of the scale and scope of the web — and got an idea.

His next chapter (which he jokingly called “The Dark Era”) was an attempt to bring digital advertising to the websites of local linear media. At WorldNow (1999-04) and later MediaSpan (2005-08), he tried to convince local media owners that their businesses were threatened by the web and to rev-share ad spots on their websites. He admits he may have been a bit early, in an era of narrow-band and early broadband.

Getting stations online
Mark Zagorski at WorldNow

After an arm-waving meeting in a Manhattan coffee shop, Mark made the leap to join an early-stage startup called eXelate in 2009 as CRO. eXelate was similar to BlueKai and TACODA as a data-oriented behavioral targeting company and later DMP. He became CEO in 2010 and helped steward eXelate through an acquisition by Nielsen in 2015. He was head of Nielsen Marketing Cloud until 2017.

That year, he became CEO of Tremor Video, which changed its name to Telaria and merged with Rubicon to become today’s Magnite. And in 2020, Mark joined DoubleVerify as its CEO to lead its CTV expansion strategy.

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