Podcast: Attention, Not Impressions

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In 2012, about six years after its founding, 33Across was in peril. Approximately $4 million in revenue disappeared in the space of a month as agencies redirected budgets previously spent with ad tech partners to their in-house trading desks.

“Programmatic was putting us out of business,” CEO Eric Wheeler says on this week’s episode of AdExchanger Talks. “It was the disdain of the insertion order overall.”

Wheeler sequestered the company’s brightest in its office in Sunnyvale and told them to come up with a new product. “This was like Battlestar Galactica,” he said. “We needed life after earth.”

The solution came through a technology the company acquired that same year, called Tynt. It was a copy-and-paste widget used by publishers that gave insights into what people were sharing. Because Tynt had Javascript on publisher pages, the technology allowed 33Across to insert ads on the page – with publisher permission of course.

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This was around the time viewability was blowing up, and 33Across realized it could help publishers in this new environment by offering larger than normal creative formats. “The idea was to help publishers serve larger, and hence more viewable ads, which in turn drove up average viewability and overall revenue,” Wheeler recalls.

Initially, the company federated to sell-side platforms such as AppNexus and Rubicon, enabling its inventory to be on their exchanges. Then in 2017, it created its own exchange. Its current offering, AttentionX, lets buyers bid to achieve a minimum time in view.

“The biggest correlation to drive attention and response out of an ad – either direct or brand response – is time. The larger an ad is, the longer it’s in view, the better the performance,” he says. “That’s what we built around AttentionX, was this ability programmatically for buyers to … buy a minimum time in view super easily.”

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