43. Matt Spiegel – making a Resolution (Media) for search

Matt worked at the LA-based ad network L90 and then in DRTV before co-founding the pioneering search agency Resolution Media in Chicago in 2003.

Resolution was acquired by Omnicom in 2005, and Matt went on to become CEO at Omnicom Media Group Digital, ultimately helping to launch and lead Omnicom’s Accuen programmatic trading desk.

Leaving Omnicom in 2011, he joined gaming ad tech startup Tap.Me as CEO for a brief stint before guiding its 11 employees over to MediaMath and #PaleoAdTech’s old friend Joe Zawadzki. Interviewed at the time, Joe extolled the ancillary skills of Tap.Me: “They thought their commercial go-to-market was around the mobile gaming opportunity. In pursuit of that they built an underlying mobile and video ad server ….”

Matt joined Joe for a bit running business development and client teams at MediaMath before hooking up with the influential consulting-cum-connections business with a similar name, MediaLink. Since 2018, Matt has led a team at TransUnion, where he is currently EVP Media & Entertainment Vertical. (TransUnion acquired Neustar for a reported $3.1 billion last year in a bold identity-driven union.)

In this panoramic episode, the loyal Chicagoan tells Marty that his entry into digital came via a landline call in a frat house he was visiting, and he feels fortunate to have spent some time in DRTV — which led him to see the opportunity in search before most holding companies did.

He recalls: “This was essentially a new form of response-driven advertising. I became an instant believer, and what was interesting is at that time … the big agencies were not believers.”

Matt worked at the Marina del Rey-based ad network L90 for none other than fellow Chicagoan Frank Addante, who later founded Rubicon Project and is now CEO of Magnite. Shortly after Matt left L90, it acquired DoubleClick’s media assets and changed its name to MaxWorldWide. (For more on this exciting saga check out our episodes with Bill Wise and Nancy Marzouk.)

Starting Resolution Media with three friends in an office space next to an adult-film production company, Matt credits early success to a focus on regional e-commerce “catalogue companies” (e.g., TireRack) and work for OMD and Starcom in Chicago.

The agency licensed technology, focusing on campaign execution, and it made money by arbitraging clicks — that is, charging clients a (reasonable, undisclosed) percent on top of what the campaign cost.

Matt believes this experience in search outfit him well to help found Omnicom’s Accuen trading desk. “What I saw,” he says, “was this [programmatic] was search all over. I mean, this literally was the search business just now applied to a display unit instead of a text unit and with an auction that functioned a little bit differently. But at the core, the auction-based inventory was not committed up front, where you needed to use technology to optimize the spend and you can do it on the fly.”

Following the Resolution playbook, Accuen licensed the tech and focused on executing campaigns. Like other trading desks, it charged clients a markup on media that was undisclosed, but considered lower than prevailing ad network rates.

Today at TransUnion, Matt is trying to “ride the identity wave.” He’s doing that by working to provide “access to good identity … targeting attributes and segmentation strategies.” His assumption that “we’re not going back to a context-only era” is one that many #PaleoAdTech listeners have good reason to believe.


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