Alan Izenman, Active International

Alan Izenman

Ad Technology and New Research

Editors’ Note

Alan Izenman has more than a decade of experience on both the publisher and agency side of the media business, working with companies like Traffix, Inc., a DR-focused company, as well as their owned and operated SEM company Sendtraffic, and affiliate marketing company, Rocket Profit. He brings his passion for helping marketers grow their business and optimize the lifetime value of customer relationships to every engagement.

How has Active been growing its product offering and what role has partnering with best-in-class technology, media, and start-up companies played in regard to that?

The product offering, especially digitally, has expanded exponentially. Over the past five years, we have doubled our revenues. From 2009 to 2010, we were up over 100 percent; from 2010 to 2011, we were up another 100 percent; and it has been about 50 percent from there on out.

We have been eliminating the financial risk of trying to build things from scratch in house by partnering with best-in-class partners both on the technology and the media side.

Based on this strategy, we’re able to provide all of the cutting-edge, digital solutions that any top digital agency can provide outside of search, which we can provide but don’t regularly include in our product offering. Given the way that data cuts the dynamic cash-based marketplace, it’s hard to apply corporate trade to the search model.

Are there competitors to your model?

We’re exceptionally ahead of the pack. While there are other corporate trade or barter companies that offer digital media, it’s nowhere near the scope of the things we do.

For example, with online video, Online Campaign Ratings (OCR) was recently released by Nielsen but not many agencies or advertisers were buying on an OCR basis because it wasn’t truly vetted out. We were one of the first large-scale buyers on an OCR basis for one of our packaged goods clients.

Video is an extremely big growth area for us. Three years ago, it was 23 percent of our revenue in digital and now it’s 50 percent.

We also do collaborative planning on the digital side with many of our clients’ agencies as we are able to allow the agency to accomplish much more with fewer resources. This arrangement works pretty well for all, especially the client.

Where is the market today with regard to mobile, and do you have to be cautious in terms of investing in that arena?

When it comes to investing in mobile for video and streaming audio, it’s a no-brainer. This is a result of the unbelievable rate of adoption of tablets in the marketplace. Consumers mainly use these devices for watching video and streaming audio, so these are the places to make the bets.

When it comes to near field communication and WAP banners, I’m not currently bullish on those investments because WAP banners, for example, have a high click-through rate but the majority of that comes from people who don’t realize they’re clicking on it or who are just curious to see what will happen on their screen. I don’t believe in the return on those yet.

But if you’re trying to drive calls to a call center, I’m a big believer in click-to-call on phones because of the immediacy. I also appreciate the ability to handle payment transactions through your mobile phone, as well as mobile applications that provide an enhancement to the lives of your customers; this simplifies their experience with your brand, and engages them.•