64. Greg Smith – Boomerang-ing through DoubleClick, EchoTarget and Aniview

Greg joined DoubleClick in 1998 as a product manager after a stop in management consulting, and he became passionate about the early retargeting solution for advertisers called Boomerang. In 2005, he founded dynamic retargeting company EchoTarget, which was acquired by Acxiom in 2007.

Today he is GM North America at Aniview, an Israel-based video monetization platform for web, mobile and CTV.

Joining the diabolically-hot DoubleClick in NYC in the ’90s via a headhunter, Greg was hired by product leader David Rosenblatt, later to become the company’s turnaround CEO. At the time, Rosenblatt ran a small group called Closed Loop Marketing, one of DoubleClick’s three lines of business. (The other two were Wenda Millard’s media network and the original DART ad server.)

Rosenblatt’s Closed Loop Marketing unit also had three power plays, as Greg tells Marty in this far-ranging chat. One was what would become DART for Advertisers; another was Boomerang cookie-based retargeting; and the other was DataBank, an ad database that helped tracking and conversion optimization.

Sensing its potential, Greg adopted Boomerang and convinced the bosses that it should be part of the media group, under Millard; and thus it was moved. It was an incendiary time, with the legendary parties (just mention “Oompah Loompah” to any staffer of that era and watch their reaction). The staff doubled in 2000, its last boom moment for a long while.

Retargeting “was successful right away,” Greg reports. With an early customer “we doubled click rate” — but more important, customers like Victoria’s Secret were able to show much better click-to-conversion rates using retargeting.

The music stopped — for everyone — in 2001, and Greg in time found himself at Cendant, a megacorporation with some holdings in travel. While there, Greg was exposed to a technology which he believed could be configured into a dynamic retargeting solution. Rather than a static tag, like Boomerang’s, it could provide data about origin and destination of a trip, which might then be populated into an ad.

Greg founded EchoTarget in 2005, using the dynamic tech and the Right Media and DoubleClick exchanges. Early customers like Spirit Airlines adopted what EchoTarget called “dynamic retargeting,” and the company claimed click-rate improvements from 2x-8x. It was an advantaged data solution, although competitors like Dotomi appeared.

Greg at the Ad:Tech event

Eventually signing up non-travel customers such as Nestle Waters, EchoTarget’s portfolio remained about 70% travel-focused at the time of the company’s acquisition by Acxiom in 2007, for an undisclosed amount.

Today, Greg is GM North America at Aniview, which he describes as an “end-to-end video platform company,” predominantly serving publishers. It offers a video player, video ad server, CMS and server-side-ad-insertion for CTV.

The biggest component of Aniview’s business is a marketplace.

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