Al Silverstein, AudienceFUEL, Active International

Al Silverstein

Editors' Note

As Chief Executive Officer-AudienceFUEL, Al Silverstein brings more than 15 years of online marketing and advertising experience to AudienceFUEL. He was most recently Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Digital Practice Leader at Active International.

Company Brief

Pearl River, New York-based Active International (www.activeinternational.com) is recognized as the global leader in corporate trade, providing financial benefits to Fortune 500 companies in virtually every industry. Founded 27 years ago, the company acquires excess assets – including surplus inventory, real estate, and capital equipment – at up to full wholesale value in exchange for cash and/or a trade credit, which is used to offset future operating expenses. Active has led the industry in the development of new standards of excellence for the acquisition of assets, the effective remarketing of those assets, and the provision of an efficient means for its clients to use their trade credits. With offices in 16 countries, Active has created more than $1.5 billion in cash savings for its extensive client base since 1984.

What did you see in the market that made you feel this was an offering that made sense?

Active has been very successful in addressing the needs of traditional broadcasters and publishers. This was an opportunity for us to create a platform that helped these same publishers capture new audiences and increase revenue in the digital space by exchanging unsold or underperforming ad inventory with each other.

Is your target market a certain size or is it more broad?

Our audience includes any digital publisher that has unsold or undervalued inventory and wants to grow their online audience. We help them to advertise and promote their site on other publisher sites. Instead of paying cash to buy inventory or traffic, they can trade.

How does the platform work?

The way we operate is on a real-time bidding platform, so publishers can bid for inventory using prices they feel comfortable with and they can set a limit for the lowest value they want to receive for their inventory using credits instead of cash. They have complete control over their inventory and their buys, and over what they spend, and the system does it automatically, giving them all the metrics to determine whether or not it’s effective.

How close is the coordination within Active for what you’re doing with AudienceFUEL?

Initially, there was very close coordination but as the business took shape, we set it up as a separate company so that we could be as nimble as possible and because we knew that we would be looking for strategic partners and investors.

Is the primary focus at this stage the U.S. market or are you focused overseas?

It will be a truly global offering; we have already begun discussions with international publishers. Up to 40 percent of a U.S. publisher’s traffic comes from international locations and often U.S. publishers can’t monetize that inventory effectively.

So we plan to provide a barter or trade platform for publishers that are looking to create more value from their international traffic by exchanging it for a domestic audience. For example, if you are coming from Germany but you’re looking at the U.S. site, we could allow a German publisher to advertise on the U.S. site; and if we see a U.S. visitor at an international destination, we can serve them a U.S. publisher’s ad.

How high up within the company does the relationship need to be with a publisher to communicate the value this can bring?

It is on a publisher to publisher basis, so for some publishers, we work directly with the ad operations group, which is responsible for traffic and optimization of their inventory; for others, we have to speak to somebody who oversees sales, marketing, or both. It depends on the publisher’s structure.

Was building a company always of interest to you?

Absolutely. I was brought to Active to help the company embrace new technology and improve Active’s digital footprint. This has been a great opportunity to leverage Active’s successful business model and trading strengths while expanding into digital with an entrepreneurial mindset.•