Ash Nashed is the CEO and founder of Adiant, which owns two ad networks: Adblade and IndustryBrains. It recently announced that its native advertising exchange would use Data Management Platform (DMP) technology, integrating first-party and third-party data to provide more robust audience targeting. Adiant has more than 1,000 relationships with publishers, including Digital ABC News, Hearst, Bloomberg, and Bizjournals.
Tell us a little about yourself. Describe your job, how long you’ve been doing it, and how you got into this field.
As a board certified medical doctor in Emergency Medicine and entrepreneur, I’ve always had an interest in technology. My training, profession, and interest led me to focus on the online health information industry where I launched one of the web’s first medical websites in 1994. This effort evolved into TheHealthCentralNetwork, which became the second largest online health information network in the US, and was eventually sold in 2005 to a group of blue chip investment firms. I also went on to found DealOn/Offerex, a daily deal exchange, which sold to ReachLocal in 2011.
In 2007, with the influence of social media exploding, I launched Adblade as a Facebook Ad Network. We quickly recognized that the native advertising opportunity was greater than social media and pivoted towards building national and local news based distribution networks. Adiant quickly became the foundation for combining advertisers, publishers, and innovative technology around content marketing, which was at the time in its infancy. Today, as CEO of Adiant I’m focused on ensuring our organization remains the native advertising innovation leader.
What is Adiant?
Adiant is a digital media technology company whose mission is to deliver the most effective and innovative advertising solutions to advertisers and publishers. We enable advertisers to reach millions of people with their message through content-styled native ads that demonstrate consistent industry-leading performance. We deliver ads across multiple channels to thousands of premium publishers. Today, we reach more than 450 million monthly unique users with distribution on over 90% of the national and local news websites in the US. We also provide our premium publisher network with industry leading revenue, by connecting our direct advertisers to quality ad placements across our network.
How can the marketing industry use Adiant to create better results for its clients?
We enable the marketing industry to intelligently serve users with relevant native ads that integrate into the content that a user is consuming at any moment.
Since 2008, our products have consistently earned click through rates three-to-five times the rate of traditional online banners. This is achieved through a rich combination of complex algorithms and layers of sophisticated targeting. The Adblade platform with DMP functionality and our massive publisher partner exchange was built from the ground up designed to help both Advertisers and Publishers stay ahead of the curve with industry leading results.
Adiant’s core technology is the Adblade platform, which provides ad creation, audience development, campaign management, and analytics tools. In addition to complete campaign management functions, the Adblade platform enables the use of data to target audiences who are most likely to interact with the content of advertiser’s messages.
The platform distributes uniquely targeted ads across our network of thousands of premium brand safe websites that together reach over 450 million unique users every month. Our reach extends globally across both display and mobile devices. At this scale, Adiant is today the largest content-style native ad exchange.
Anyone who currently buys right rail ads or in-stream ads from Facebook, should feel right at home with what we offer with Adblade. The “image plus text” ad format and pricing structure is very similar. The largest difference is that our ads appear outside of Facebook. So anyone tasked with brand exposure, paid discovery, or even direct response will find a familiar home and a user friendly set up on the Adblade platform.
What changes in your industry made you realize Adiant would fill a void?
The largest change that we identified was the gradual decline in CTR and effectiveness of standard display advertising. With the fast pace of the online advertising world, we saw the need for advertisers to be able to better reach consumers without interrupting their user flow and for publishers to monetize their real estate at a higher level.
We are repeatedly identifying voids in our industry. Whether it’s the need for new ad units, demand for integrating data in native advertising, or the need to capture insights from cross-channel analytics, Adiant has consistently invested in developing technology that improves native advertising. In just the last few years, we developed a dynamic ad unit and built a DMP that integrates first and third-party data sources. We also provide display and mobile ad performance as part of our Adblade platform. Looking forward, we are becoming even easier to use and further integrated with programmatic partners.
Describe the core features of Adiant?
A few of our core features include our Adblade platform’s cross-channel and data integration, as well as our ad unit innovation and exclusivity.
Data Management Platform: Beyond having great scale and flexibility, the Adblade platform is the first to integrate first and third-party data targeting capabilities into content style native advertising. Our DMP technology allows advertisers to bring their own data and target their own users or utilize our integrated relationship with eXelate to build out a highly targeted audience segment.
Exclusive Inventory: Sophisticated targeting is great, though it’s not worth much unless you can effectively reach the segment of an audience that matters most to you. We went beyond simply building a massive publisher network; we contracted with our partners to direct 20 billion impressions that are only available through Adblade’s fixed placement ad inventory. Adblade’s content style native ads are not available through any other exchange.
We capitalize on this exclusive inventory by developing innovative native ads. From the creation of the Newsbullet® ad unit six years ago to introducing our dynamic ad unit technology in 2014, Adiant has a proven track record of ad unit innovation. The ongoing evolution of creative layouts designs and the need to stay fresh and engage users drive our efforts to design interesting ad units that blend well with page designs and capture attention.
How do you see your industry evolving in the next few years?
In the coming years, we are going to see the need for standardized native ad disclosures and more sophisticated cross-channel metrics that can be tied to business outcomes.
Adiant has been a vocal proponent of proper disclosures, having gone so far as to participate in a Federal Trade Commission panel to discuss the issue at length. Improper disclosures erode user confidence in native ads and hurt our entire industry. Properly labeling native ads only leads to better business outcomes, as it drives better engagement with highly qualified users who actually want to consumer an advertiser’s content.
Just as proper ad disclosures are important to better business outcomes, cross-channel metrics that uncover performance-improving insights are necessary. As our industry continues to incorporate data-driven marketing, it is increasingly focused on understanding and continually improving results. Adiant is actively working to both integrate into the larger digital industry, while growing its analytics capabilities to serve the growing demand for cross-channel metrics.