MarTech Interview with Eric Wheeler, CEO, 33Across

MarTech Interview with Eric Wheeler, CEO, 33Across

“AttentionX is the first programmatic exchange to offer only viewable inventory and Attention-based Advertising.”

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Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What galvanized you to start 33Across?

I co-founded 33Across after running Digital agencies for many years. I was inspired by the potential of Programmatic Advertising and data to transform the ways in which brands were reaching consumers and optimizing their investments.

How do you prepare for the highly disruptive Advertising Technology ecosystem?

We stay focused on solving key business problems for Advertisers and Publishers. Technology is simply an enabler and new innovations are only relevant to the extent that they’re adding real value to the ecosystem. As a technology platform for the Advertising industry, we try to remain focused on adding value rather than simply managing disruption.

What are the core tenets of your Business Development model?  How does 33Across add value to Digital Transformation journeys for businesses?

Our platform connects buyers and sellers around a unique combination of three things: 1) Innovative attention-focused ad formats: This includes impact ad formats designed to stay in-view as well as attention-based bidding. 2) Quality direct relationships: We integrate directly with 1,500 publishers which allows us to monitor viewability in real-time. 3) True programmatic scale: Attention isn’t impactful if you can’t deliver it at a meaningful scale. We have integrations with over 100 of the largest platforms. We make it easy for our buyers to leverage their existing buying models and current industry standards.

The end result is that we help advertisers improve ROI by delivering quality attention for their campaigns and publishers benefit by receiving fair value for the quality engagement they deliver.

What is the current state of Attention-based Advertising and how 33Across fits into the ecosystem?

First, there is a fundamental quality problem in programmatic – every DSP and SSP is struggling with the implementation of costly services to strip out the 50-80% of inventory that doesn’t meet basic viewability and human standards. Second, marketers are beginning to realize that going beyond the current 1 second viewability standard can deliver exponential benefits in performance, but it’s very difficult to transact and optimize at scale this way today.

We recently launched AttentionX to solve these challenges. AttentionX is the first programmatic exchange to offer only viewable inventory and Attention-based Advertising. So, we’re solving the fundamental quality problem by flipping the model and applying quality filters in real-time before the impressions make it into the exchange. We do this at a massive scale and minimal cost to the market. AttentionX also makes it relatively simple for buyers to experiment with attention-based buying by leveraging a CPM model and allowing them to bid on various time-in-view segments.

To what extent can Video Marketing and Advertising be automated for better Personalization? How does 33Across help CMOs to achieve the highest-level of Personalization?

There are many interesting technologies out there to customize various elements of a Video programmatically. In this context, our role is to provide the best possible canvas for these ads and make it easy for marketers to integrate data at scale.

Tell us about the most emphatic moment in the Programmatic buying marketplace in the past 24 months?

Besides the launch of AttentionX, AT&T’s acquisition of AppNexus was obviously significant. AT&T’s move signals that large telcos and media companies are beginning to aggressively build out their capabilities through acquisitions. These companies know exactly what advertisers want: to achieve true ‘network effect’ by reaching potential customers over a broad combination of digital, broadcast and OTT.

Which brands do it best when it comes to better monetize their Advertising budget?

Historically, direct response marketers got most of the credit for effectively monetizing programmatic. But things are starting to change for brand advertisers as programmatic ad experiences and inventory quality improve and online/offline targeting and measurement becomes more seamless.

Which Marketing and Sales automation tools and technologies do you currently use?

To run our own business we leverage a combination of CRM, Marketing Automation, and home-grown reporting tools to connect the dots on our Sales pipeline and forecasting.

How often do you measure the performance of your Marketing Analytics and Sales Reporting?

We look at our own Analytics and Sales data twice a day to stay on top of the dynamics impacting our exchange.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Marketing operations for 2018-2020?

In thinking about the dual levers of audience and environment, there are probably two impactful disruptions on the horizon. With regard to environment and inventory quality, we’re starting to see a significant push to move beyond the MRC’s 1-second viewability standard. We believe that as technology lowers the barrier to entry, we’ll see a lot more advertisers Transacting and Optimizing on time-in-view-based buys. On the audience side, the push to establish a more unified view of the consumer across devices will be the priority. We’ve already seen the major telcos make a number of high profile acquisitions in the AdTech space.

What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?

While we’re always on the lookout for interesting lessons to be learned from individual start-ups but the MarTech space has more than 6,000 companies today. To a large extent, we’re focused on the broader trends and understanding where we can deliver value for the industry.

Could you tell us about an outstanding Digital campaign?

We recently ran a very interesting test with a relative newcomer in the fresh pet food space who was selling into major retailers. They leveraged our proprietary impact formats to deliver significantly higher time-in-view for their latest campaign. This correlated directly to brand lift – longer time-in-view drove a 16% increase in brand awareness.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Business Leader?

We’ve been leveraging Machine Learning for over 10 years and as a Business Leader, it’s critical to understand that “AI” is actually an umbrella term for a number of different technologies and applications. First and foremost, it’s important to get a handle on how advances in big data and Machine Learning are impacting your sector as well as the opportunities and disruptions they are creating.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

We are a software company and are constantly monitoring, improving and testing our technology. We’ve also paired that with a tradition of in-person standup meetings that drive transparency, ownership, and collaboration.

One word that best describes how you work.


What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Text, Slack, Delta’s mobile app, and LinkedIn.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

I’ve made a habit of taking full advantage of my commuting time to set-up and close out each day.

What are you currently reading?

Currently, I’m reading Ralph Ellison’s, ‘Invisible Man’.

On the non-fiction side, I recently enjoyed reading ‘The Hard Thing about Hard Things’.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Slow down and listen.  It never hurts and is almost always welcome.

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

Honestly, it’s not about doing anything better than others, it’s about getting everyone to be better together and to do it in alignment.

Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read

Andy Monfried – CEO of Lotame and true O.G.

Marc Benioff – Founder & CEO of Salesforce

Lewis Gersh – CEO of Pebble Post

Thank you, Eric! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Eric is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of 33Across, a publisher Monetization and Traffic platform. He’s a seasoned start-up entrepreneur and a pioneer in Digital Advertising, with a proven track record in creating products for marketers and publishers that increase revenue and uncover actionable insights.

33across logo

33Across is a technology company focused on solving the challenge of consumer attention in an era of Automated Advertising. The 33Across Attention Platform is the first programmatic solution to unify high-impact creative, quality supply, and true technology-driven scale. 33Across is headquartered in New York with locations in Sunnyvale, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Tokyo, and Hyderabad.

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The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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