SemGeek.com is proud to present an Exclusive Online Interview with Paul Pellman, CEO of Click Forensics
This interview is brought to you in cooperation with the Search Engine Strategies’ Pre-SES New York 2010 Blog & Q&A Coverage
Question #1: Can you tell our audience a little more about your role as CEO at Click Forensics? For example, what does a typical day consist of?
Answer: Well, there are no typical days when you’re the CEO of an internet start-up, but that’s what makes it so fun. This is even more true within the fast paced online media industry. We really are in the midst of seminal marketplace changes, which is creating significant opportunities and challenges.
That said, for me it’s about trying to always find balance – between thinking/acting strategically and accomplishing all the day-to-day tactics and to-do’s that need to get done; between driving/focusing the team and working with existing and prospective customers to understand their key problems that we can help solve. No two days are the same; it’s very fast-paced, which is how I like it.
Question #2: As the Authority in Click Fraud Detection and overall Traffic Quality, can you provide us with any insights, trends, or concerns that you have seen over the past year with regard to overall web traffic? Is there anything we should be aware of for the near future?
Answer: I think the most interesting thing we’ve seen in the CPC space over the past year is that while more companies are focused on the issues around traffic quality, the fraud rate has been pretty constant. We’re actually seeing more sophisticated sources of click fraud emerge. Botnets, malware, and very sophisticated fraud schemes are becoming more common, while the old sources of fraud like competitor fraud and publisher fraud are being successfully prohibited/discovered. So while the click fraud rate looks like it’s been pretty constant over the past years, the complexion of the fraud has changed considerably.
In the near future, we really believe that the traffic quality problems will migrate to the display ad space as well. The advent of DSPs, ad exchanges and yield management platforms, along with the continued proliferation of ad networks means that advertisers and agencies are losing some level of transparency and control over their campaigns. Was my ad shown? Was it seen by the right audience? Did anyone actually see it? Those will become the measures of quality in the display ad world.
Question #3: What would you say are the biggest challenge(s) facing PPC Advertisers in this highly competitive marketplace?
Answer: The PPC advertising space is no longer the wild west. It’s very data-driven and sophisticated. You can’t just bid up your core keywords and sit back and wait for traffic. Advertisers and agencies are hyper-competitive, so whether you’re talking about long-tail keywords or bid optimization, it requires a lot more work to make sure campaign dollars are well spent. The high ROI of PPC can mask a lot of inefficiencies, but those days are numbered.
Question #4: Even with Google and Yahoo trying to improve the quality of traffic in their respected Content Networks, there are still problems with Click Fraud and overall traffic quality. In your opinion, how can Click Forensics help the typical advertiser overcome these issues?
Answer: First, let me say that Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft all do a great job at trying to prevent fraud in their advertiser campaigns. And when it does happen, they tend to be very reasonable about providing credits or refunds to advertisers. Our issue has always been that it’s incumbent upon the advertisers to ensure they’re getting what they pay for. Some advertisers simply choose to trust the search engines, and that’s fine. We’d say trust, but verify. Our products help advertisers to verify that they aren’t paying for invalid and fraudulent clicks.
Question #5: With the emergence of more and more PPC Management Software Companies entering into the industry offering everything from Bid Management to measuring Attribution, how has Click Forensics, positioned itself to be different that the competition?
Answer: Given all the PPC data we see and our relationships with large advertisers, we’ve actually considered whether it would make sense for us to enter the search optimization space (bid management, attribution, etc.). But instead we’ve chosen to focus on our core competency, which is improving traffic quality. That means we often end up providing our service to a different audience than just PPC advertisers. Many of our largest customers are ad networks, publishers, and content aggregators.
They don’t want to deliver poor quality traffic to their advertisers. We help them by filtering out invalid traffic and routing the quality traffic appropriately. We help ad networks to manage their publisher base by focusing on quality providers. So, we’re not a PPC Management company, but we are helping to improve the quality of traffic for PPC advertisers – even for the ones who aren’t our direct customers.
Question #6: From your unique perspective as CEO with Click Forensics, can you describe for our audience what specific products or services of CF would be most valuable to the typical customer?
Answer: Well, our “typical” customer might be a PPC advertiser, an ad network, or a publisher. There’s no one product that they all buy from us. But all our products are focused on the same issue: improving traffic quality. Click Forensics for Ad Networks helps performance-based ad networks to better serve their advertisers, better monetize their traffic, and eliminate waste in campaigns. We score every click and every source of traffic so that network operators can maximize their profitability.
Question #7: For existing Click Forensics customers as well as others who might be interested in trying out Click Forensics, do you have any new and exciting enhancements that you would like to announce?
Answer: The most exciting thing we’ve announced recently is that we’re expanding our offerings to the display advertising market. We plan to bring to the display advertising industry what we’ve been providing in the CPC space for years: transparency, verification, and audience quality improvement. Click Forensics has now opened the beta testing program for a new platform that will enable online display advertisers to make impression filtering and ad serving decisions in real-time.
For more info visit: http://www.clickforensics.com/display
About Paul Pellman:
Paul Pellman is an expert on online audience verification for the search and display advertising industries. He has spoken on the topic at top industry events, including SES, ad:tech and Pubcon. As the CEO of Click Forensics, he oversees the development and delivery of the company’s ad verification offerings, which are used by leading advertisers, agencies, publishers and ad networks.
Before joining Click Forensics, Paul served as executive vice president of Marketing and interim President for Hoover’s, and vice president of Consumer Direct for Terra Lycos. He was also CEO of two early stage start-ups. Paul holds a B.S. in accounting and finance from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Harvard University.
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