MarTech Interview with Tim Vanderhook, CEO at Viant

MarTech Interview with Tim Vanderhook, CEO, Viant
MarTech Interview with Tim Vanderhook, CEO, Viant

“Digital Out of Home (DOOH) and Connected Television (CTV) are the two fastest-growing areas of the media budgets and those two channels are all about video.”

Tell us about your role and journey into Technology. What inspired you to start at Viant?

As Co-Founder and CEO of Viant, I drive the overall direction and business strategy for the company. 20 years ago when my brothers and I started the business, Digital Advertising was in its infancy and we were just learning how to buy and sell ads as entrepreneurs. I realized very early on that I was entering an industry at its creation and it was incredibly exciting for us to not only learn but contribute to its maturation.

Initially, we were one of the first businesses that developed behavioral targeting across a network of publisher properties and our business took off like a rocket. As an entrepreneur, you spend a ton of time building towards your vision of ‘a better way’ forward and to experience that vision become a reality and propel the growth of a business is what gets you hooked (for life). The technology industry is even more unique than others because everything changes and evolves daily. New device types, new coding languages, more computing power, new operating systems, etc. These dynamics make the technology industry the most exciting industry to work in because of the incredible pace of change and innovation.

What is Viant and how does it fit into a modern Advertising Technology stack?

Viant is a people-based advertising technology that gives marketers the ability to plan, buy, and measure their entire advertising spend. We are unique in that we give marketers access to the insights generated on our own people-based database that has tied over 250 million registered users. Equally important to scale and reach of course is the measurement, and we give marketers the ability to tie in-store Sales to ad exposure. Every marketer wants to know if their ad dollars are really working, and we provide them with a platform that shows true ROI on their advertising spend.

How is the Advertising Technology ecosystem different than when you first started Viant?

When we first started in AdTech, there were no third-party ad servers, or advanced reporting available. It was a very immature industry powered by a lot of manual processes and spreadsheet entries. Measurement was nowhere near as advanced as it is today and calculating your return on ad spend was almost futile. But over the last twenty years, we’ve seen this industry grow in so many ways that are valuable to a marketer.

Take for example the ability to reach the right consumer with near-perfect accuracy on their preferred device. The way that we are able to combine CRM data with people-based marketing to create a consistent and persistent identifier which ensures an extremely high level of accuracy in a campaign, but also gives marketers the ability to measure their ad spend whether the consumer purchases online or in-store.

How big is your Product Development team? How does your Sales and Marketing teams contribute to Product Development?

Our Product and Technology teams consist of about 100 people and are at the core of translating our vision of how media budgets are planned, executed, and measured now and in the future.

Our Sales and Marketing teams are the best in the business. Sales really drive the voice of the customer and push the status quo to truly solve our client’s biggest problems. Our Marketing team has done a tremendous job in outlining and addressing the specific uses cases and pain points our platform solves for our customers.

Which businesses are the fastest to adopt Video AdTech platforms? How does it impact Branding and Marketing operations for B2B and B2C customers?

Almost every category of the marketer is adopting video as their preferred format, but the most important data point within the video that I have seen is that marketers are taking that video and extending it across channels. Digital Out of Home and Connected Television are the two fastest-growing areas of the media budgets and those two channels are all about video. Video transacted programmatically now includes not just laptops and smartphones but Connected TV, DOOH boards, and traditional linear television. Marketers are designing their brand messages and campaigns to be seen not just on ‘traditional digital devices’ like smartphones and laptops but now across an array of Internet-connected screens in office buildings, arena’s, roadways, and airports.

Video transacted through Ad Technology has exploded because marketers are looking for a single interface where they can plan, buy, and measure their media investments. It’s the Omnichannel needs of our customers, both B2B and B2C, that have driven us to this point and will continue to drive all mediums to be transacted programmatically. The Viant Ad Cloud gives marketers the ability to use data both holistically and granularly to drive the decision making on which tactics are driving the business impact they are looking for.

Tell us about the most epic moments in the 20 years of your business. How did you transform customer success for clients?

There are too many individual moments over that course of time to point out just one! The things that I will remember most when I am done will be the people I was able to work with, both our employees and our customers, as the technology industry has grown and matured.

Apart from B2B commerce, Content, and Social Media branding, how can Companies better leverage Viant for business?

Marketers turn to us because they want to know that their ad investment is actually working. We’re major advocates for transparency, which is why we recently launched a subscription-based model to address the ad tech tax and allow marketers to invest more of their advertising budget into working media. We see ourselves as a true partner and our goal is to help marketers generate greater ROI from their advertising campaigns regardless of the channel, whether its Display, Video, DOOH, CTV/OTT or Audio.

Tell us more about your Product roadmap for 2020? Do you offer Live Streaming solutions?

There is a myopic view that Digital Advertising happens just in a web browser. But now it’s on Connected TV, which didn’t even exist just a few years ago. We are looking forward to the ongoing evolution of the Internet of Things. The internet brings measurability and will continue to be incorporated in just about everything. The internet of things is the next big thing, whether its new types of hardware, the connected car or digital billboards. We are keeping an eye out for what the internet is being applied to and the channels that are relevant for marketers.

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

 We work with a number of outside partners on a variety of initiatives. The beauty of our space is the amount of collaboration in the ecosystem.

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

It’s probably not a startup anymore but Tesla is a very interesting case study. An innovative product that is disrupting a century-old automotive industry head-on. But like many disrupters, they also have their challenges around scaling and moving down the market.

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

The terms AI and Machine Learning are often misunderstood, both in what they are capable of and how to apply them to solve real-world business problems. AI and Machine Learning are extremely powerful and Viant has been focused on using them to increase efficiency and solve some practical challenges, like eliminating fraudulent inventory or giving marketers the ability to predict how much to bid in order to secure an impression. The best preparation for an AI-centric world is examining your pain points and evaluating whether or not AI or Machine Learning is worth the investment to solve them.

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

As the President and CEO of Viant, Tim sets and drives the overall direction and business strategy for the company and each of its brands.

In 1999, Tim, along with brothers Chris and Russ identified the high growth potential of digital advertising and founded the interactive advertising platform Specific Media during those early stages of internet advertising. Tim’s vision led to the development of behavioral targeting technology that created ground-breaking interest-based digital advertising practices. He led the company’s evolution from a small family business to an industry-leading multinational corporation.

viantinc logo

Viant Technology LLC is a premier people-based advertising technology company, enabling marketers to plan, execute, and measure their digital media investments through a cloud-based platform.

Built on a foundation of people instead of cookies, the Viant® Advertising Cloud provides marketers with access to over 250 million registered users in the U.S., infusing accuracy, reach and accountability into cross device advertising.

Founded in 1999, Viant owns and operates Adelphic and is a member of the XUMO joint venture.

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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