MarTech Interview with Amnon Siev, CEO at GeoEdge

Amnon Siev, CEO, GeoEdge

“When a user visits a publisher, they’re expressing a level of trust in the publisher, and each publisher must repay that trust by providing a safe and clean user experience.”

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Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What galvanized you to join GeoEdge?

I always found the tech industry very interesting. Growing up in Israel, I watched the Israeli tech companies as they made a huge impact on the Israeli economy and built the start-up nation ecosystem. I knew this is the place I want to be. After completing my MBA at NYU in New York City, I have been developing products and growing Sales of Enterprise technology vendors first at telecommunications and then internet companies.

We founded GeoEdge in 2010, and for me, it was all about the great team. I was inspired by the fast pace environment and the rapid innovation cycles in this industry. Our goal at GeoEdge is to make the Internet safer for kids and adults all over the world, so they won’t be exposed to inappropriate content or security threats from within the advertising. I am a father of three children myself and on a personal level, I feel that this is a mission that I can relate to.

It’s been an amazing journey and we’ve achieved a new high in the beginning of this year with the roll-out of real-time blocking for sexually offensive and malicious ads in the in-app environment. This SDK solution provides a new level of continuous protection which is necessary to fight malvertising today and in the future, and it is unique to GeoEdge.

How is GeoEdge different from other AdTech platforms?

GeoEdge is not an AdTech platform. It is a cybersecurity company that primarily is working in the AdTech industry. Our start- and end-point is to ensure a good user’s experience when it comes to digital advertising while ensuring that publishers, app developers, and other supply-side partners maintain their revenue stream by providing their readers with a safe environment.

Our prime focus is to protect publishers’ audiences from malicious and bad ads in the programmatic ecosystem. We monitor publisher’s ad inventory 24/7 to detect and block any malicious activity and quality issues in real-time, long before any damage can occur to the site/app user’s experience.

With GeoEdge, publishers and app developers can stop choosing between profits and peace of mind – and instead provide their users the clean, safe and engaging experience they expect. Ahead of any other ad verification company, we are the only company that offers a comprehensive solution for detecting and blocking bad ads on web, mobile and inside applications.

What sets GeoEdge apart is the fact that we’re all about providing publishers with peace of mind knowing that their users are protected. The fact that we look at user experience from a holistic approach is something that is unique to GeoEdge. Not only do we protect users against malware and malicious threats, but we also protect against threats to the user experience like sexually-offensive ads and other in-appropriate.

Our advanced user protection service combines GeoEdge’s established industry-leading detection with real-time blocking. We monitor every single impression to identify malicious code in real-time through behavioral and heuristic detection. Each ad campaign is cross-checked using a real-time reputation feed that is continually updated by using aggregate data from publishers.

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

We know that the malicious actors are always looking for the latest vulnerability or opportunity to exploit, so we must be diligent and stay one step ahead of their game.

The real challenge in keeping ads served programmatically safe is detection. That’s why GeoEdge’s security research team, using our real-time blocking technology, works to uncover and analyze malicious patterns in order to more effectively block auto-redirects, Malvertising and other bad ads such as sexually-offensive ads.

What is the current state of ad transparency and verification in the digital advertising industry?

The importance of ad transparency and verification has grown over the last three or four years so that all prospective clients and partners now understand the value we deliver. That said, the challenges that remain include an arms race between malicious actors who are constantly looking for vulnerabilities to exploit and publishers and other supply-side partners who are fighting on more fronts across more channels.

Publishers and platforms are fighting more vigorously and we can see the change all the time, they are making more efforts to provide a safe and professional experience for users and advertisers. This is precisely why we rely on real-time blocking, and just became the first ad security company to offer in-app real-time blocking via our SDK offering.

Today, the targets for malicious ad attacks are mainly our phones, table and desktops, but in the not-so-distant future, our cars and smart home appliances will also be targeted with malicious ad attacks, and we’ll need to safeguard against that, too.

Why should Publishers invest in guarding against malware and inappropriate or non-compliant content or actors?

First of all, because these bad and malicious ads have a big impact on their revenue.

When a user visits a publisher, they’re expressing a level of trust in the publisher, and each publisher must repay that trust by providing a safe and clean user experience. But when users fall victim to a nefarious attack, whether their data stolen via a phishing ad or they’re exposed to sexually-offensive content, their experience is negatively impacted and their trust in the publisher decreases, resulting in lower lifetime value and diminished revenue for the publisher.

Advertisers also need to feel that their ads will be safe and that the advertising experience is a positive one.

Today, with publishers working with more partners in a programmatic way to generate revenue, malvertisers have become more sophisticated with the ever-changing arsenal of tactics they use, creating a perfect storm. To fight this, publishers need a real-time blocking technology that is continuously updated, to ensure staying a few steps ahead of the malicious actors.

How much have business operations changed for publishers in the last few years because of malvertising and inappropriate or non-compliant content or actors?

The sophistication employed by malvertisers and other malicious actors has increased significantly in the last few years, requiring publishers to be more proactive and invest in real-time blocking technology. Publishers need to be diligent in their fight against malvertisers or they risk losing revenue as well as the trust of their readers.

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

At GeoEdge, our Sales and Marketing organization uses various Automation tools including Totango. Salesforce, Pardot, and of course they’re GDPR compliant.

What are the core tenets of your business development model? How does GeoEdge add value to Digital Transformation journeys for businesses?

Our business development model is based on a high touch approach. We engage with prospective customers across a broad range of touch points including in person and at events and digitally via email marketing, publications of reports and industry research, public relations and digital marketing.

We add value to the Digital Transformation journey of our publisher and supply-side clients by providing them and their users and advertisers with peace of mind, ensuring that their experience will be safer, and free of malvertising as well as inappropriate, sexually-offensive and non­-compliant content. When malicious ads are uncovered, GeoEdge’s technology replaces the offensive ad with a publisher-safe one, guaranteeing a continuous revenue stream for our publishers and supply­side partners (SSPs).

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

We measure the performance of our Marketing analytics and Sales reporting on a continuous basis because, in Marketing, things can change dynamically, and we like to have our fingers on the pulse. A campaign can start strong and then taper off. Our Marketing team wants to know how each campaign is performing on a daily and sometimes hourly basis to ensure that they’re delivering relevant and qualified leads to our Sales organization.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Marketing operations?

I believe messaging apps like Facebook-owned WhatsApp will disrupt Marketing operations for both B2B and B2C marketers. With this development, there will be new kinds of malware and malicious codes to fight.

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

I have a pretty long drive to the office, so I’m personally interested in some of the autonomous driving technology companies like Mobileye, which will make my commute to the office much more productive.

In digital marketing, I’m interested in seeing where the growth in Voice/Audio takes us. Will search migrate to audio? Will we read less and listen more? And what kinds of malware and malicious attacks will occur via digital audio that GeoEdge will need to contend with? And of course, autonomous vehicles, and smart home appliances will also provide new opportunities for ad-based malware.

Could you tell us about an outstanding digital campaign?

I really like SodaStream’s “Fight Plastic” campaign against single-use plastic bottles. This was a pretty aggressive campaign for a company that was recently acquired by PepsiCo (which sells a lot of beverages in single-use plastic) while mocking Pepsi rival Coca Cola’s classic 1970s hilltop commercial.

Today, it takes a lot of intelligence and creativity to stand out above the noise, and SodaStream delivered.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

I find that my team is already inspired by working with technology. Often I hear about new apps or other technology solutions from my team. This also one of my guidelines when hiring new employees – I want them to be always curious and tech-savvy. It is a key component in driving the company’s innovative abilities. This is indeed an exciting time to be working with so many amazing technologies.

One word that best describes how you work.

Passionate. It’s important for me to be excited and enthusiastic about what I do, so I’m passionate about GeoEdge and what we’re accomplishing. And when I recruit, I look for people who will bring their personal passions to the office.

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

Waze, Skype, WhatsApp

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

Having a conversation. I have solved countless issues that escalated via email and messaging apps by sitting down and having a conversation.

What are you currently reading?

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

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

To listen more than I talk. This is even more relevant for CEOs.

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

The secret to my success is making sure to spend some time every day with family and friends. It grounds me while also enabling me to re-focus when I get back to work.

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

Demis Hassabis, a game developer who created AlphaGo, Al software which defeated the world’s best human player of the Chinese game Go.

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

Amnon Siev is the CEO at GeoEdge, the premier provider of ad verification and transparency solutions for online and mobile advertising ecosystem. Prior to his current role, Amnon was the VP of Product Management at GeoEdge.

Amnon has been part of the Internet and IT industries for more than 16 years working in a variety ‎of leadership roles in Product Development and Management. Amnon’s expertise is in the internet and telecom sector, ranging from Fortune 500 ‎companies to Startups, where he specializes in introducing new solutions to the marketplace.

Amnon ‎has a B.Sc. degree in Engineering from Ben Gurion University and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from the NYU Stern School of Business.‎

geoedge logoGeoEdge is the premier provider of ad security and verification solutions for the online ‎and mobile advertising ecosystem. The company ensures high ad quality and verifies that sites ‎and apps offer a clean, safe, and engaging user experience. GeoEdge guards against non-‎compliance, malware (malvertising), inappropriate content, data leakage, operational, and performance ‎issues.‎

Leading publishers, ad platforms, exchanges, and networks rely on GeoEdge’s ‎automated ad verification solutions to ‎monitor and protect their ad inventory.

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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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