Interview: Andrew Casale (VP Strategy, Casale Media) Explains Premium Ad Exchanges and Ad Quality

[re-post from Ad Tech Daily]

Two weeks ago, Casale Media launched casaleX, a premium ad exchange that grants select DSPs and agency trading desks exclusive access to brand-safe inventory. Following the launch, we have spoken to Andrew Casale, VP of Strategy at Casale Media, about how the ad exchange environment is re-shaping these days.

Otilia Otlacan: Congratulations for the launch of casaleX – could you share with us what were the main drivers behind this initiative?
Andrew Casale: Over the past eight years, Casale Media has focused its efforts on helping publishers maximize the yield coming from their indirect sales channel. When we started our efforts into this field over a year ago, real-time bidding represented exactly what publishers desired: a new demand channel to access their supply. But at the same time it came with a series of challenges that publishers were naturally very concerned about: sales channel conflict, data protection, ad quality, auction based buying driving prices down not up, etc. Here at Casale, we spent the time to look at each area of concern, speaking to publishers who were actively experimenting with the model and encountering these challenges, and we built a product that spoke to each concern. Our solution enables publishers to safely and seamlessly leverage this new demand channel without worry. Each DSP and trading desk is vetted before being allowed into our casaleX marketplace, and the draw for buy side is access to premium publishers and impressions they otherwise wouldn’t find on other exchanges. Our publishers, in turn, get access to quality brands and are given full control over the entire process. It’s a win-win for both stakeholders.

Otilia Otlacan: We witness a resurgence of display advertising and ad exchanges seem to be leading the way. How does a premium exchange fit into the rapidly re-shaping marketplace; what sets casaleX apart from its competitors?
Andrew Casale: No matter how the marketplace is re-shaping, advertisers and agencies will continue to seek the very best brand safe environments on the web, and no matter how the mechanism of buying changes, the end result is still the same, agencies want to place their client’s brands in front of the correct target audience, at the correct time, in an environment that is appropriate to the brand’s image. Because casaleX is a premium exchange of our carefully selected publisher partners, it sources the very best in possible online ad placements. This selection process drives ad spend where advertisers are getting the best audiences without compromising the brand value. A lot of what has fueled the growth of ad exchanges and RTB has been audience and data driven buying, and while this is an exciting and very valuable mechanism environment, context and quality have lagged to date. These three factors make casaleX stand out from other similar value propositions. At Casale we are looking to represent quality impressions, not just a quantity of impressions for which many exchange-based sources of supply are traditionally known.

Otilia Otlacan: News keeps coming through indicating there may be a trend in shifting agencies away from ad networks and onto exchanges, primarily for reasons of transparency and control. Do you think we may get to see the beginning of the end for ad networks?
Andrew Casale: The shift is more about buying value than anything else. The ad network category is incredibly crowded and it has just become far too difficult to sort through the ad networks that provide real value and those that don’t. Whether advertisers shift dollars from networks to exchanges to SSPs doesn’t really matter. Advertisers just need a solution that will generate the best value. We can’t predict the possible end of ad networks however, as long as the players in this market deliver the transparency and control that advertisers and publishers expect, they will be around a long time. The ad networks that can’t develop the technology to deliver on these needs are in the ones nearing their end.

Otilia Otlacan: Casale Media has recently published a comprehensive and long-awaited study correlating ad placement and ad performance. What prompted you to look deeper into this correlation, and how are these findings incorporated into casaleX?
Andrew Casale: The measurement of ad impressions needs work— for example no matter their placement, all impressions are generally given the same weight as each other. For instance, ad impressions that are above the fold are more than 7x more effective than ads that are below the fold, yet that is not clear to advertisers on ROI reports.

The report is designed to inform the advertising community and quantify the effect of various types of impressions on websites. From feedback we’ve heard from media and partners, it’s helped to uncover the need for a new measurement process much like the one outlined by the IAB to measure not just reach, but quality and “viewable” impressions. At Casale we’re all about quality and if we can in some small way help encourage more attention and oversight, the industry stands to benefit, and we stand to rise with it.

With casaleX and our media marketplace, ad placement and frequency are part of the measurement model we advise advertisers to consider when they look at how effective their campaigns are.

Otilia Otlacan: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Andrew Casale: Casale Media is here to help and is committed to innovation and the future of our industry. Traditionally labeled an ad network, there is sometimes a generalized assumption that both publishers and agencies tend to have about the stance Casale holds on topics like real time bidding, programmatic buying, trading desks and demand side platforms. While this may be true of many of the players in the category, we want the community to know that this is not true of our stance. Since we started the company we’ve always been about creating new technologies that generate real value. As we continue tomove ahead and grow we will remain just as committed to the future trends that come our way as we have those that now rest behind us. Since we flipped the switch on casaleX we have heard from publishers and advertisers on how much success they’ve been having with campaigns. Advertisers love the quality and publishers love the very granular controls. We are always looking to add more partners for casaleX, and we encourage any conversations we can have with potential partners.

About Andrew Casale
Andrew Casale has been with Casale Media as Vice President of Strategy since the company’s founding ten years ago. Son of the founder and CEO, Joe Casale, Andrew is responsible for overseeing the deployment and execution of Casale Media’s new products, as well as managing the needs of its thriving marketplace across the supply, demand and technology business units within the firm. Most recently, Andrew’s leadership has played a key role in developing and establishing Casale’s premium RTB exchange, casaleX.

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