Industry Insights
The Prose in Programmatic Advertising: An Interview with The Exchange Lab


Justin Snyder
Sales Director
The Exchange Lab



For those of us that aren’t familiar with The Exchange Lab, tell us a little more about yourselves, and your expertise.

In short, The Exchange Lab is the world’s largest programmatic media marketplace. We unify several of the industry’s leading DSP’s (demand side platforms) through our proprietary analytics & trading engine, Proteus. Proteus allows for far more efficient delivery across the DSP’s, saving advertisers both time & money when executing multi-platform programmatic buys.


Most of the research reports we see from eMarketer, Gartner, and Forrester have shown explosive growth in programmatic ad buying. Does this correlate with what you guys are seeing internally?

This is absolutely in-line with what we’re seeing internally. In fact, the whole premise of The Exchange Lab revolves around the fact that we noticed new, powerful technologies originating on a monthly basis. Instead of trying to create our own DSP, The Exchange Lab leverages the power of our DSP partners individually & in collaboration with each other.


How do you think programmatic ad buying affects publishers, of whom produce all the content on the web, in terms of both revenue, and technological disintermediation?

I think publishers view programmatic as a double-edged sword. On one edge, programmatic is extremely valuable, as it allows them to monetize their inventory that hasn’t been purchased on a direct-site basis. However, at the same time, programmatic can be harmful to the publishers’ revenue, as the rates tend to be far cheaper than buying directly. The balance of programmatic vs. direct is a delicate one, as publishers obviously want to sell as much inventory as possible at the highest price possible. Programmatic helps fill the gap, and at the end of the day, I do think it’s valuable to the publishers who offer inventory to be purchased programmatically.


There’s quite a lot of clutter in the industry, in terms of acronyms, and sheer number of players that claim to have a differentiated offering. How do you see all this panning out in the next few years?

There are quite a lot of players in the industry, and that number is only increasing with time. However, we’ve seen a trend over the past few years, which we’ve deemed ‘Rise of the Titans’. In this case, the Titans are players like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc.; we’ve noticed these players acquiring several new technologies, so there is a mitigating factor to the industry’s growth. Eventually, I believe these Titans will dominate the space by purchasing technologies they view as valuable & unique.


What do you think will be the most important differentiator for ad technology companies in the upcoming years?

I believe the ability for a company to accurately unify a single user across all mediums & devices, including online>offline, will become the next largest company. While that may not accurately answer the question of a ‘differentiator’, I think the company who finally solves that piece of the puzzle will become king.


Programmatic has been around for almost half a decade; but it seems like there are some brands & agencies that have been slower to adopt this technology. Why do you think this is the case?

Paradigm shifts take time. The first few years constituted the ‘Introduction’ phase of programmatic – developing, testing, learning, developing. Once its value had been proven, the next phase was ‘Early Adoption’. This phase involved agencies & advertisers taking risks to test the new technology. Once brands began to recognize the true value of programmatic, the ‘Growth’ phase began. This phase involves the rapid adoption & use of the technology, and I currently believe we’re in the midst of this ‘Growth’ phase. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen with past industries & technologies, the ‘Decline’ phase typically follows. I don’t believe we’ve reached that phase just yet, but programmatic companies must be cautious and understand that adaptation & continued development are key.


What do you think is the biggest misconception of programmatic?

I think the biggest misconception of programmatic is, ironically, it’s inherent meaning. Programmatic is essentially synonymous with ‘automatic’; in other words, the automated buying & selling of media. However, while programmatic media buying is partially automated, it still involves a human element. Traders, traffickers, account managers, etc. are still required to execute the buys. So while many of the processes of programmatic are in fact automated, I don’t believe programmatic is truly programmatic just yet.


Do you think there will be a merging of Martech & Adtech in the near future– a marketers’ dream of having One Platform to Rule them All?

It’s an interesting prediction, but honestly, I don’t see it happening. The reasoning involves both specialization & differentiation. Even as we see the Titans ingesting & developing new technologies, the gap between Marketing & Advertising will always exist. If anyone were to do it, I believe it would be Google, but I don’t think they would want to.


What are your thoughts about self-service ad buying? Do you think at any point it will eclipse the managed services model of which has been dominant for the last 100 years?

The concept of self-service is really just a question of in-house vs. out-of-house. Even on a self-service model, an in-house team is still required. Agencies & advertisers must balance the costs of hiring, training, and successfully executing campaigns to save on the margin of paying an outside team to do it vs. just letting that outside team handle it. We’ve seen several agencies flirt with the idea of a self-service model, but rarely do the plans come to fruition.


Lastly, there has been a lot of hype about programmatic over the last few years. Do you think that it will live up to it’s hype – or even surpass it?

I honestly believe programmatic has already surpassed the hype phase. It started out as a cool new technology worth testing, but in a couple years, I believe the decision whether or not to include programmatic on a media plan will no longer exist – it will be required.



The Exchange Lab is One for All. One company connected to the world’s largest programmatic digital media marketplace. The company’s unique multi-platform solution unifies all of the top demand side platforms (DSPs), marketing technologies and exchanges into a single touch-point that drives the highest level of efficiency and insight for agencies and advertisers.

The Exchange Lab is powered by Proteus, an intuitive trading management platform which works by bringing all of the leading platforms together including: MediaMath, DoubleClick Bid Manager by Google, DoubleClick Ad Exchange by Google, Adap.TV, Adbrain, ONE by AOL, AppNexus, and The Trade Desk, under one roof and playing to each of their strengths.

Founded in 2007, The Exchange Lab serves more than 700 clients across 50 markets and was recently acquired by WPP’s GroupM as a core component of their Connect services.

To find out more, visit or follow us on Twitter @exchangelab

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