Thought Leadership
The Predecessor to Programmatic: NASDAQ on Digital in the 21st Century


Elyse Southwell
VP of Digital Sales & Advertising



NASDAQ is the most trusted destination of financial news and analysis on the internet (as well as being known for being the first electronic stock market in the world). For those of us that are not familiar with your advertising offerings, can you share a little more on your digital and mobile properties and audience characteristics?  

Sure. is the retail site of the Nasdaq Inc..  This includes, Nasdaq Stock Exchange; as well, we have an wealth of additional business: Fin Tech, Market Data, Block Chain, IR Services, Indexes, etc…  Here at we have a completely ad-supported revenue model.  Some of our offerings on the site include display banners, native display, content marketing, 3rd party targeting, etc…  Our global audience (60/40 US / ex-US split), is made comprised of Individual Investors, Investment Professionals (FAs/RIAs), affluent business decision makers, as well as financial, business & news enthusiasts.


According to eMarketer, programmatic buying already takes up more than two-thirds of digital display ad buying. Do you think this is the case, and as a publisher, what is your opinion of programmatic technologies?  

I heard about half of all ad-buying is programmatic buying and it sounds about right.  If you think about all of the sites on the web and how many of them are monetizing via display advertising – there needs to be an efficient network structure and consolidation of how the inventory is bought and sold.  However, for premier sites with influential brand authority like, the advertising can be, arguably, just as important as the content or data and that sales & marketing process is not something that can be handled programmatically.


It was reported back in February that impression volume on AppNexus fell by over 90% after they removed fraudulent impressions from their exchange. What are your thoughts on the fraudulent inventory that exists on exchanges or through other black box buying platforms?

Not having transparency with vendors causes the black box buying platforms.  The industry needs to enforce screenings and transparencies between the supply and demand partners.


Have you had the opportunity to work on a Private Marketplace deal, and if so, what was your experience with it?  

I have and it’s not something we do regularly; however, when we execute, it benefits all parties.


How has ad blocking affected  

Ad blocking is something of great concern not only for but all publishers.  Although a dying breed, at one time, everyone paid – actual money (!) – to buy their favorite magazine or newspaper… their fingers would touch the pages and they would pore over the wondrous content inside, right? Remember that!? Well for the last good decade or so, you can access that same great content on the web – for free!  (Of course there are exceptions to paywalls and what not – some of which I find effective or ineffective –and the net net there is it’s really a business-model and brand-dependent model.)  

So, free content on the web but behind all of your favorite sites are a ton are some of the hardest working people in the business (developers, programmers, edit teams, content curators, designers, etc..) and more importantly, the web is for-profit industry & need to make money.  Advertising keeps the lights on and allows publishers to continue to do what we do best – which is provide quality and informative content, news & data.  Don’t block our advertising partners – we need to pay our bills too!


It seems as if native advertising has been embraced by many publishers due to the higher CPMs it yields them. Many larger publishers are doing extremely custom, integrated, branded content pieces on brands with a lot of interactive content, charts, and visuals. How does NASDAQ think about native advertising?   

We love native!  Not necessarily because of the sometimes-splashy integrations but because a brand’s message can be deeply integrated into the content, charts and overall design of the site.  For us here at, native isn’t just another revenue driver – it’s about continuing to deliver the marketing message and doing in the most seamless way possible.


Mobile has been known to have notoriously low CPMs, either due to lackluster brand demand (as compared to desktop display and video), or for other reasons. What is NASDAQ’s approach to mobile, in terms of user content consumption, and monetization?  

Every year in the industry, it’s the YEAR OF MOBILE!  (WOO!)  And every year, publishers and brands both seem to have hesitancy – not because the audience isn’t there, but because the medium changes so rapidly and mobile dev can be overwhelming.  

Specific to the financial industry, publishers and brands alike have sensitive regulatory concerns so layer that in and it can be a slower pace. Having said that, Nasdaq is currently undergoing mobile projects which  includes relaunching our apps and optimizing areas of our mobile – friendly site.  To us, it’s all about being a groundbreaking leader on the mobile web and, of course, maintaining our dedicated and loyal mobile users.


What are some innovations happening now in digital advertising that excite you the most?  

I’ve always had an intense enthusiasm for innovation and big ideas.  I’m super jazzed about experiential technology – specifically virtual reality and what that means for the future of advertising.  Will a user be able to put on the Cardboard viewer, experiencing a live bell ringing and then a major brokerage can market the IPO to the viewer – right then and there?  Mind blowing.  Sign me up.


Many publishers want to create more video content as the monetization of this in-stream content can be extremely lucrative through selling pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll units through them. To the extent that you can share, typically what percentage of your campaigns involve video ads as a main component?  

We have a good numbers of partners who use video in their campaigns.  Whether that’s in banner video, pre-roll or video content pieces – it’s a good number but it’s growing.  In a couple of years, I believe advertisers will be incorporating video way more than ever before.


Lastly, what is your take on the future of publisher direct ad sales to brands?  

When you have a brand — a real, powerful, authoritative and influential brand, that publisher must always have a dedicated, direct sales force.  I don’t believe it needs to be as tremendously large but I believe a talented and savvy sales force representing a powerful brand will never go away.



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In 1971, the microprocessor was born. Nasdaq wasted no time capitalizing on the new technology by bringing all-electronic trading to the market. Later in the decade, this provided the likes of Apple and Microsoft with the means to raise capital that was previously unavailable to them.

Sixteen years later on the other side of the Atlantic, OM became the world’s first publicly traded and listed exchange company. In 2007, Nasdaq merged with OMX with a vision to be a single company with a single mission: Deliver the kind of resources that would solve the logistics of the global capital markets.

That vision has served us well. So well, in fact, that Nasdaq transformed itself from a U.S.-based equities exchange to a diversified technology provider for thousands of global firms. Today, we’re the leading technology and information services provider to the capital markets. And our Global Trading and Market Service business have become a significant part of our client offerings.

All this can be traced to Nasdaq’s focus on synchronizing and optimizing market movement – an essential principle in the growth of business economies. No one else provides customers with such a high level of infrastructure, tools and strategic insight. Customers have taken advantage of the fact that we’re the single largest liquidity pool for U.S. equities (in volume traded). We’re also acclaimed for our top-rated data offerings. And, of course, for the Nasdaq 100 — home to many of the world’s most heralded securities.

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