CEO SERIES Episode 18:
A Conversation with Yieldmo CEO Michael Yavonditte
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I'm Mike Yavonditte. I'm founder and CEO of Yieldmo. Yieldmo is a two-sided advertiser exchange and marketplace. I think we're ranked 14th now in the world in terms of scale and that means that we are handling trillions and trillions of ad opportunities every month. And essentially connecting together brands, DSPs, agencies, and all the publishers of the world across desktop, mobile and app.

We've been in business for ten years, obviously FF is an early investor. Union Square Ventures. Google Ventures. The team is about 150 people now growing 30 plus percent a year. There's about a quarter of billion dollars running through the system annually and next year we'll hit cumulatively about a billion dollars that have run through the system.

Yieldmo is probably one of the most prolific users of machine learning in all of advertising. We are using machine learning in seven different places in our exchange for a variety of reasons, mostly to optimize either creative or KPIs for advertiser. But we also use it for maximizing yield in the exchange, helping to change pricing on an impression by impression basis through something we called smart margin.

We basically can manage supply and demand in a lot of ways using machine learning and it's been an interesting adventure to use it in all these new and unique places. The team has been with me for almost 20 years. Previously we built the second largest pay per click ad company, a company called Quigo, which we sold to AOL in 2007.

And so the team has been together since 2002 all the way through to today and so I'm really proud of that as well. And right now on a monthly basis we have about 370,000 Advertisers in our exchange buying those trillions of impressions. Some of those advertisers only spend a penny a day, but some of them spend tens of thousands a day or more and really it's everything in between.

And we are global now, we operate in Asia, Europe and the United States. We're an ad tech company. We are a very deeply technical company. 22 patents issued, as I think I mentioned, probably one of the most prolific users of machine learning. I love ad tech because everything is in a constant state of change.

Nothing stays the same for very long and every 18 to 24 months you better have some interesting new ideas or you're gonna get left behind. There's a lot of data. You can make changes that are impactful really quickly, and in some ways it can become addictive. Because if you're an optimization person like I am, we can run millions and millions of experiments every day, predictive models and whatnot and get answers very quickly.

And right now you have regulatory, you have privacy, you've got the cookie issues, you've got all these massive changes that are gonna hurt a lot of really big companies. And it's gonna be interesting to see how things shake out. So we have essentially have built two different systems in parallel for the last seven or eight years.

One is a full stack of technology that revolves around IDs and cookies, and another system in parallel that doesn't need an ID or a cookie. And so I was never 100,000% bought into programmatic advertising, which is why we built these parallel systems. And so, our targeting and optimization system works with or without a unique Identifier and so, most people didn't do that.

Most companies didn't make those investments. And so a lot of companies are trying to pivot right now to new forms of targeting and optimization and I think it's gonna be a hard pivot for a lot of companies. I don't know that everyone's gonna make it. I mean, the biggest companies like Facebook can spend their way into a new position at some point in the future.

They can spend their way into either acquiring or developing new approaches, but it's gonna take a while. And the vast majority of the companies that went all in on so called programmatic advertising, targeting IDs and cookies, are gonna have a really hard time. The fact that there is definitely very poor visibility right now, worse than I've seen in the past, no way of predicting what the first half of next year is gonna look like, cuz it's been for us month by month.

Some months have been better than others, kind of fell off a cliff. In programmatic advertising in July of this year after Facebook and Snap came out and warned of headwinds and a recession coming and all that kinda stuff. The double edged sword of programmatic is that you can turn us on in about five minutes and you can turn us off in about five second.

>> Speaker 3: So Facebook and Snap said things are bad. The end customers who buy from them all heard things are bad and so they stopped spending.
>> Speaker 2: Yes, and some of them-
>> Speaker 3: This is kind of crazy.
>> Speaker 2: Some of them did it indiscriminately or at least trim budgets because they could.

In our form of advertising there's no commitment, there's no advanced commitment or very little advanced commitment. And so when the market comes back, I will know it very quickly because, I have this massive portfolio but I also will get turned on first as well. So, our business has definitely been negatively impact because of all the headwinds.


Yieldmo is an advertising technology company that operates a smart exchange that differentiates and enhances the value of ad inventory for buyers and sellers.
Michael Yavonditte
Michael Yavonditte is a CEO and private investor in the technology industry with investments in 100+ Internet companies. He has invested in companies like: Trello, Elementus, Meetup, Tapad, Beeswax, YipitData and many others. Michael built two successful ad companies, Quigo and Yieldmo. He built and sold Quigo to AOL for $340M in 2007.
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