Cory Treffiletti was an ad major at Syracuse and one of the “lucky ones” — as he says — who know what they want to be early on. Moving to NYC, he joined an agency and was given digital planning responsibilities for major brands such as BMW and CVS just because he’d “been on the Internet.” It was 1995. He later pioneered media planning and testing techniques at agencies such as i-Traffic, Freestyle Interactive and Carat Fusion, in the days when home-page takeovers and roadblocks on Yahoo were the norm for big campaigns. Moving to the West Coast, he lived through the dot-com boom and bust — “It was really fun!” — and eventually founded a startup advisory/capital firm called Catalyst S+F, where he played short-term CMO roles for startups such as Kenshoo, Turn, MediaMath and RedAril. He joined BlueKai as CMO in 2012 and helped define the DMP space, later becoming CMO of Oracle Data Cloud after Oracle acquired BlueKai in 2014. Cory is currently SVP of Marketing at fintech platform FIS. A longtime columnist for MediaPost, he’s also author of the 2012 book Internet Ad Pioneers, a collection of in-depth interview with notable women and men from the first 20 years of digital media.
In this wide-ranging interview, Cory takes Jill and Marty through his journey starting in 1995 as a tyro at the dawn of the Internet, through the dot-com boom and bust, his time on-stage with Primus … to CMO-dom and Oracle Data Cloud … meanwhile providing a lucid explanation of exactly what a Data Management Platform (DMP) is, anyway, and a pointer to one of the all-time great pieces of content marketing.
Paul Bannister started life as an intrepid video gamer who turned his passion for Nintendo into an online publication that — in the early pre-history of 1995 — was one of the first to sell an ad on the internet. It cost $400 for an arbitrary-sized (but small) highly pixelated ad unit with a lot of text. His career as a publisher was launched. Years later, he joined Andrew Shue (Melrose Place, soccer star) and others in co-founding CafeMom, an early and successful example of a social network-content site. CafeMom was ad-supported from the beginning, and from his perch at the ever-growing network Bannister saw the development of ad servers, ad networks, SSPs, DSPs and header bidding. Today he is Chief Strategy Officer for CafeMedia, a company based largely on the acquisition of AdThrive in 2018. CafeMedia basically outsources publishers’ back offices and revenue ops so they can focus on creating content and is particularly strong in travel, hospitality and leisure. In this wide-ranging episode, Bannister trains his widely-admired prophetic abilities on the history of publishing tech, the future of the cookie, and why there may be some reasons for optimism looking toward 2022.
Joanna O’Connell is a well-known industry pundit and V.P. Principal Analyst at Forrester, where she covers advertising technology, a field she has graced for more than twenty years. Starting as a celebrity-loving production assistant at CNN, she joined Avenue A as a media planner in the late 1990’s in New York City, left to join a fraught Miramax for three years after a twenty-something crisis of meaning, and returned to Avenue A as it transformed into Razorfish and took the mathematical road to media optimization. A chance meeting in an East Village nightclub around 2007 started her on a continuing role as programmatic evangelist and led her to co-found ATOM Systems, the first big agency trading desk (build on MediaMath, then Invite Media). Pro-programmatic evangelism defined her work at Forrester and later AdExchanger, where she was chief of research until joining MediaMath itself as CMO for two years (2015-17). In this interview, Joanna talks to Jill and Marty about her career path, her love of “nerdy” media buying, and her mad-scientist father who turned a horse barn in Upstate New York into an inventor’s lair.
Joe Zawadzki is CEO of MediaMath, ad tech pioneer and noted investor, mentor and visionary. A floppy-haired, Tesla-driving, intensely affable Harvard grad, he came to NYC in the late ’90s and joined a real estate firm as an analyst. Rapidly, his interest turned to e-commerce and personalized shopping apps using ASP. (In this episode, he reminds us that in the pre-SaaS stone age, start-ups had to buy their own servers and security systems.) Through the time of the dot-com boom and bust, he bravely founded Poindexter, a Silicon Alley firm that provided technology to agencies. Poindexter was originally focused on website personalization and optimization, and customers such as AOL and American Express asked them to deliver better prospects in the first place (aka, ad tech). Zawadzki adapted optimization to ad targeting and serving, was involved in the ideation of Right Media — his own ‘origin story’ and cautionary board-handling tale is dramatically told here — and saw Poindexter rebranded to [x+1]. In 2007, he founded MediaMath, a leading DSP, which continues to rock and roll today. He’s also a co-founder of MathCapital, an investment fund.
Zach Rodgers is the editorial director of the mighty AdExchanger, founded by John Ebbert 12 years ago and still representing the pinnacle of ad tech journalism. In fact, we’re lucky as an industry to have such a voice. He joined the editorial team more than nine years ago and has been a key influence on its integrity, quality and growth – as a writer, recognizer of talent (often quite young talent), event shepherd, manager, editor, source wrangler, MC and raconteur. In the latter role, he’s hosted the 226 episode-strong and counting AdExchanger Talks podcast, which has seen just about every ad tech influencer shuffle behind its mike. A part-time vegan and all-around mensch, Zach started at ClickZ and other trade pubs before entering ad tech history & legend. In this episode, he talks about his childhood dreams (many), his initial opinion of advertising (not so hot), how he met John Ebbert, AdExchanger’s legendary first event at the New York Historical Society, his pursuit of Brian O’Kelley, gender bias at ad tech events, and the future of his storied pub. (Also check out Zach’s side hustle, a podcast called Beaconites about his beloved hometown of Beacon, NY aka ‘the New Brooklyn‘.)