TechBytes with Dom Fortin, CTO, district m

TechBytes with Dom Fortin, CTO, district m
TechBytes with Dom Fortin, CTO, district m

Tell us about your journey into the digital technology industry?

My journey into the digital really started in my early 20s – in 1999, I enrolled in a Software Engineering program. Throughout my university years, I worked as a web developer as a sideline to make a little bit of cash and one summer, a couple of friends and I decided to launch a dating website, as it had just become a huge trend. This is where I started to understand the importance of online advertising, as it ended up bringing us a huge chunk of our revenue. Once I graduated, I decided to test the job market, working for Yellow Pages to develop web-based internal tools. Then in 2010, I returned to working on the dating website full-time, as it had really taken off.

How did you arrive at district m?

As a cofounder, I’ve been with district m since the beginning, but the way the project came to me was through Sebastien (Fillion), one of the other cofounders. We had worked together on the dating website so he approached me when him, JF (Côté) and Pat (Marin) were ready to launch district m and needed someone to handle all the technical side of the business.

What is district m and what can it do for businesses?

district m is a full-service advertising exchange that creates open marketplaces through which publishers and advertisers can connect to maximize their digital advertising opportunities.

On the publisher side, we have built a proprietary ad exchange, dmx, as well as a unique display and video monetization platform to help over 7 500 websites in North America maximize their ad inventory and increase their advertising revenue.

On the advertiser side, we have, among other things, developed exclusive high-impact formats as well as powerful optimization algorithms to generate outstanding results for both agencies and brands. district m has also developed go for SMBs, a managed service to enable smaller businesses to leverage the power of online advertising and grow their business.

How does it help digital advertisers big and small?

As attention spans are getting shorter and consumers are increasingly hard to reach, we have developed exclusive high-impact and interactive formats to enable advertisers to better engage with their customers and powerful targeting options to reach them at the right time, in the right place. We’ve also developed a reporting platform with an extensive suite of metrics and KPIs to help advertisers track and optimize their campaigns every step of the way.

For small advertisers, like SMBs, we offer a managed service that allows them to benefit from programmatic advertising to attract new customers and nurture existing ones, without having to get involved in the heavy-lifting it requires. Business owners often don’t have the time to invest in learning how to create, launch and optimize ad campaigns across various channels, like SEM, display or social. The service we offer does it for them.

What does it take to start and succeed in fast-changing tech start-up ecosystem?

I think there are several key elements to succeeding in this type of industry; first and foremost, it takes the willingness to risk everything and sacrifice a lot. Entrepreneurship, in any industry, is risky and requires a high level of adaptability and flexibility. This brings me to my second point, which is trusting yourself and your vision. Yes there are risks to scaling in a fast-changing industry, but if you’ve studied your market and you stand 100% behind your vision, you’re maximizing your chances for success. The last point is having the right people around you. Not necessarily people who think the same way you do, but partners who will complement your skillset and bring new perspectives to the table.

How is district m preparing for an AI-driven world?

In this day and age, talking about data has almost become taboo because of the various scandals surrounding sketchy ways of collecting and using data. district m adheres completely to the concept of privacy by design and with the implementation of strict regulations surrounding data, we believe it is crucial to develop AI and machine learning capabilities that won’t have to rely on personal data to be efficient.

Now, once we have that anonymized data, the challenge remains to build the capacity in our technology to crunch that phenomenal amount of data, but also make sense of it and learn from it. Right now, that is our biggest focus.

Do you think AI could be better leveraged for digital advertising? How does district m empower businesses to become AI-ready in dealing with these operations?

Since the core of our operations does not revolve around AI, but rather on technologies that can be made more performant with AI, our mission is not to empower businesses to become AI-ready, but rather to make them benefit from the capacities we develop, no matter their size or scale. Right now, the machine learning capabilities we are building are to help advertisers understand their market and their audience on a deeper level so that they can buy smarter, ultimately benefiting from a better return on investment.

How can businesses better benefit from district m’s technology? What is the most cutting-edge tool you offer to the customers or SMB’s?

Our tools are built for advertisers of all sizes to maximize their digital advertising investment, whether that is a couple hundred dollars a month or a twenty-thousand-dollar campaign. We aim at providing media buyers with all the transparency and KPIs they need to understand their campaigns, adjust their strategy and optimize their spend level to reach their goals.

Our go platform is definitely one of our most cutting-edge products. Most advanced programmatic platforms are often too complex to use for people who aren’t experts in digital advertising, so our goal is to offer a platform that provides the best and simplest user experience, without sacrificing on results.

As a tech leader, what industries you think would be fastest to adopting district m’s technology?

E-commerce and direct-to-consumer brands, without a doubt. As those industries live solely online, they are the first to need a solid advertising strategy and access tools that can provide the performance, scale and visibility they need.

Dominic is the Co-Founder and CTO of district m, a full-service advertising exchange that creates open, transparent marketplaces through which publishers and advertisers can quickly and easily connect to maximize today’s digital advertising opportunities. Previously, he has worked at The Yellow Pages Group and Telus.

districtm logo

district m is a full-service advertising exchange that creates open, transparent marketplaces through which publishers and advertisers can quickly and easily connect to maximize today’s digital advertising demand. Since our inception, we have served as a trusted monetization partner to 2,500 publishers globally by bringing incremental demand through over 350+ unique brand partnerships. With offices in Montreal, Toronto, and Los Angeles, and propelled by an investment from Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Investissement Québec, we continue to grow and increase our footprint in the digital media industry.

As of today, our company is comprised of more than 90 talented experts who are all responsible for its international success and influence.

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