Edgar Baudin, CEO & Co-founder of Gamned, Discusses Programmatic Buying in France, ITDs & Publisher Collectives

Gamned, an international real-time trading technology company based in France, are positioning themselves to bring RTB campaigns and technology-based advertising to the mainstream. ExchangeWire spoke with CEO & Co-founder Edgar Baudin about their offering.

For those unaware of the Gamned proposition, can you give some overview on what you do in the French market?

Gamned is a company specialising in real-time personalised advertising, providing its services to e-merchants and large advertisers since 2009. We run RTB campaigns spanning the whole client life cycle and purchase funnel: from brand awareness to client retargeting for cross-sale. Thanks to our proprietary platform, we can offer full transparency on our operations, buying, margin and where our ads are delivered. We believe that advertisers will become more and more demanding regarding how and where their performances are reached, and we are willing to take them in this direction.

We have 35 people on staff, 40% of whom are in R&D, located in Marseille, while our client services operate from Paris. We have focused our development on core components such as an adaptive DMP, a DCO engine and an advanced client dashboard (soon fully customisable).

This technology allowed us to win the digital marketing and the gold award at the latest E-commerce Paris fair, recognising the strength of our value proposition and technology stack.

Is Gamned an Independent Trading Desk? How do you position yourself in the market? Do you service agencies or have a client direct strategy?

Independent Trading Desks are mainly operating third-party platforms and solutions. We have an internal Trading Desk running and optimising our clients’ campaigns, but we define ourselves as a technology-based specialist in real-time personalised advertising.

The difference?

As stated, our focus is the technology stack and its adjustment to suit each advertiser need.
Yet, as the market is not yet mature enough and RTB-related skills are not widely spread on the advertiser side, we do provide a fully-managed solution for advertisers to make the most of RTB opportunities, bundling expertise and technology. We are able to build tailor-made solutions for our clients, implementing complex data integration from online and offline sources.

We mostly service direct advertisers, as they can take the best advantage from our tailored offers. That being said, we do work alongside agencies who fit our approach.

With regard to the Independent Trading Desks, what are the underlying reasons for there so many active in the French market?

First, France has been really active in the RTB eco-system! Thanks to Criteo and some industry pioneers, ad exchanges have developed very quickly, enabling new actors in the supply and demand sides to emerge. Now we see the same dynamic on the supply side, with initiatives such as La Place Media or Audience Square.

The three main reasons why we have seen so many new trading desks launching in 2012 are:

– Ad Exchanges and RTB are true buzzwords and have attracted many new players.
– Traditional agencies need time to be up and running on new set-ups, which leaves room for independent players.
– Some players labeled under the trading desk tag are really offering ad network-targeted packages.

That being said, we do see the ITD position to be a limited offering in the long run. As trained staff and skills develop, the competition will increase and margin will shrink where there is no value added.

Is there likely to be a consolidation of the ITDs as the market matures in France?

Consolidation will happen from 2013: there are too many players at the moment in the market. Many trading desks are small companies: some will collapse and some will be bought by traditional agencies. We can expect that one or two significant ITDs will grow and take a significant market position, as it happened in the paid search industry.

Gamned recently raised a round of funding. Can you give some overview on the new raise and in what aspects of the business you will be investing?

We have raised €1.5m with a private fund who have funded many successful French web companies over the last 10 years. They are fully invested in our technology growth. We aim to consolidate and grow our technology stack to keep a step ahead of competition.

We are also clearly thinking in terms of the international market, as we already operate some campaigns in wider Europe and LATAM. This might come more into play later in our development, as R&D is the priority for now, but this is on our 2013 agenda.

We have seen a trend that a lot of European ad trading specialists are trying to build their own bidder or customised tech. Are Gamned looking to do something similar?

We are definitely building our customised technology; we are also relying on strategic partners, such as Appnexus, to be able to integrate external stacks into our platform. I would say that today our technology is 40% AppNexus and 60% in-house, we will grow the latter focusing especially on data management and mining capabilities.

To achieve this goal, we have been hiring additional engineers and analysts in Q2-Q3. along with Laurent Duverney-Guichard (ex Microsoft Advertising Exchange), who has joined the team as VP Product.

In terms of your client mix, are your clients more DR-focused than brand-based? Are we likely to see big French brand advertisers putting money through the automated channel anytime soon?

Historically, our customers are mainly DR-focused. Yet, throughout the last months as premium inventory has become more widely available, we saw that branding campaigns are taking a bigger share of spend month after month.

As advertisers are being educated on the power of personalised, real-time advertising, they are more likely to put brand budgets through RTB. We are currently working on campaigns combining dynamic creative, innovative formats, video and mobile. From a market perspective, we ensure transparency on quality supply sources in order to give more reassurance to advertisers.

There’s been some interesting developments in France this year with the launch of La Place Media. Do you think these initiatives will speed up adoption of data-driven buying in the market?

Of course! La Place Media and Audience Square are initiatives that participate in the “evangelisation” and promotion of automated media trading. It gives reassurance to both advertisers (through well-known premium sites) and to publishers. Having established premium media brands on-board such as TF1, M6 or Lagardère is a strong message to the market.

While most advertisers understand the opportunities lying in data-driven advertising, years of placement-driven have defined the mindset. Well-known publisher brands are a good way to give guarantee of brand safety and to make sure the publisher aligns with the values and positioning of the advertising — without losing focus on their return on investment.

How do you think FBX will affect automated budgets in France? Will we see a significant shift of French DR spend into FBX? Can FBX really work on a post-click basis? Is it still early days in terms of how to assess the FBX channel?

FBX brings significant additional inventory and enables us to create a complete offering and touch the social sphere through display. We consider it supplemental inventory. We have been connected to the Facebook exchange for a few weeks already, but it is still too soon to draw conclusions on its performance compared to other publishers in the market.

Post-click interrogation is not a Facebook-related question, and this has been debated many times. Our vision is that impressions can have value, but they don’t always. Our approach is to sort these on behalf of our advertisers, we work with market and in-house technologies to measure the creative exposure time and percentage. We define when the user has really seen a creative and when it makes sense to count a post-impression conversion, and when it doesn’t.