MarTech Interview with Shailin Dhar, CEO and Founder at Method Media Intelligence

Shailin can you tell me how and why you founded Method Media Intelligence.

I started as a consultant primarily focused on helping advertisers, agencies and platforms understand invalid traffic. I listened to the pain points that were traditionally faced by marketers when it comes to measuring their digital ad-spend and built MMI360  Which I am proud to say is now MRC accredited.  Historically sampled measurement has plagued the ad-technology industry since its inception. Which we solved with a [patented] 5 millisecond device authentication check that allows verification of every single ad-impression. This provides media buyers full receipts with quality metrics. This is the transparency that our industry continues to seek. 

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Full receipts? Don’t advertisers know how much they owe?

They know how much they paid. They just don’t know exactly what they were buying. For example, a DSP might buy 1000 impressions of ESPN. Those 1000 impressions might have 20 different sellers at 1000 different costs with varying results. The aggregate results you get back from other vendors don’t really tell the full story. If I am a buyer, I want the full story.

Isn’t all measurement 100%?

Your assumption is the same one that most everyone else makes, no not all measurement is 100%, most use a sample-based methodology. Auctions are done in milliseconds and some of the checks that vendors do require a user to perform an action on a page, which is not milliseconds. The question we ask when we speak with media buyers is for them to ask your other vendors, what is their Decision rate? A lot of cloudiness in what vendors can and can’t do which is not a slam on anyone. Most media buyers and media sellers are not generally technical.  Our realization during last year was that nobody wanted another verification vendor, they had their incumbent and were satisfied. When we took a look at the business, we realized that we are the only ones that have 100% measurement and were able to connect all of the dots with quality metrics. We were able to help with what buyers wanted true supply path optimization (SPO). The problem has been a systematic disconnect between verification data and supply path workstreams. ‘Supply Path Optimization’ remains a remote side gig, we figured out it did not need to be.  Everyone has been doing basic domain optimizations, the supply path for the buy side is not and should not be limited to just domains. Our recent study with the with the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) that we did showed that the supply chain when connected, can be valuable to optimize.

I saw that news, tell us more about your findings. Is it similar to the ISBA/PWC study from last year?

Our study with the AANA was focused on buy-side transparency rather than holistic industry transparency. We were looking at how transparent the data access was in the areas that buyers can directly control. Many marketers and agencies believe they have contractual access to data, but have not exercised that access and therefore the supply chain remains polluted since nobody has looked to see whether there are glaring issues. Transparency in digital ad-technology is equally about process as it is about technology. Both sides are far behind where they could be, so the optimism is in knowing how achievable that full transparency is.  Numerous traffic verification approaches are demonstrably not filtering all bad traffic or payments, and sometimes are only done at the pre-bid level. “Wrapper” implementations inherently make transparency for buyers difficult.

What is around the corner for MMI?

Our original thesis is that new visualization tools like Tableau, Datorama are becoming more important to organizations. Data interoperability was core to our long-term strategy. Allowing teams to access and see the data in their environments was important to us as it was important to them. What became clear is while some organizations are moving in that direction, others are not and have not. Some buyers just want a dashboard. With the recent release of MMI360, we improved our dashboard capabilities to help provide both day to day users the data they need to be successful in their day job as well as the CMO. I am really proud of what we built for the CMO. It was designed so that a CMO can click a predetermined query that can allow them to see what are the domains they are spending the most on, which ones are the best..worst…etc. Simplifies the questions they either get asked or ask.

Does MMI measure OTT/CTV inventory? 

Yes, we do. OTT/CTV has been challenging for all vendors due to the limitations of JavaScript in these environments. The mistake a lot of the other vendors make in this space is to continue to rely on IP addresses. Server-side ad insertion (SSAI) creates a new separation from the destination of the ad, and the content into which it serves. Think about how pizza delivery works. They come to your door and the exchange is made. With SSAI, your pizza is delivered to the neighborhood gate and the guard delivers it to you when he thinks you’re ready. The IP address that most are filtering for, is the guard gate, not the actual house where the pizza is going, and this is a widespread problem. A lot can go wrong but we have focused on measuring using all native web properties, RTB protocols, and our patent to deliver what we believe is soundly objective measurement in this environment. Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Are you funded or looking for funding?

We had a seed round in 2019 and have been running a very healthy business in 2020 and starting to see a path in 2021 where we need the team to continue to grow. We are starting the fundraising process soon.

Your predictions for martech in 2021 and how should CMOs gear up for the changing times?

I think our study is going to be encouraging to CMOs. CMOs have been battling frustrated CFO’s who want the answer to what is going on with our advertising dollars.  We can help those CMOs show and grow the digital spend with more efficiency.  Reducing waste and improving outcomes is the shared goal of CFOs and CMOs.

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Method Media Intelligence is an MRC accredited verification vendor. MMI360 is used Globally by clients and agencies for Verification, Transparency, Auditing, & Supply Path Quality Assessment and Optimizations. MMI360 measures 100% of ad transactions & provides full receipts while providing indefinite retention of the data that can also be used for Media Planning, Negotiations, and Benchmarking purposes.

Shailin is the CEO and Founder at Method Media Intelligence