The Exchange Lab’s proprietary programmatic platform, Proteus, is all about being future proof. Proteus offers advertisers a single solution that adapts to their business needs, and that’s helped the company stand apart in an increasingly cluttered and competitive marketplace.
Proteus is a Meta-DSP, (demand side platform), a kind of super platform that unifies the largest DSPs into one interface, giving brands a complete view of the market and enabling them to create campaigns from a massively wide range of inventory sources. Proteus analyzes trading patterns to select the best inventory options and plays to the strengths of each DSP in order to maximize performance. It aggregates data to give The Exchange Labs’ clients better reach, greater scale, more campaign analytics and superior cost-saving efficiencies while having access to the highest-quality inventory globally.
“We discovered a long time ago that DSPs are not all the same,” says CEO Chris Dobson. “They have different access to different inventory, they have different algorithms, they also have different strengths.”
Indeed, it’s used its meta approach to great effect for a number of big brands in a number of different markets, including Volkswagen Canada. For a campaign that aimed to drive traffic to the brand’s website and increase both brand awareness and dealership visits, it used Proteus to narrow down the brand’s audience across five provinces to reach mid to high income households that were willing to purchase a vehicle by targeting the right channels. Past experience in auto campaigns was leveraged to target the most relevant and effective channels, geographic targeting ensured sufficient audience reach in all of the provinces, and interested consumers were retargeted with pre-roll videos to boost engagement, a process that was optimized on the go to focus on the two best performing platforms. The effort resulted in 56,134 conversions and a 93% lower CPA.
What keeps The Exchange Lab ahead of the competition are the capabilities it continuously incorporates into Proteus. By bringing in a variety of different sources and vendors, it’s been able to use its platform to make sense of data for its clients. It will on-board partners as needed, including the likes of Nielsen, Videology and Moat, all three of which will be integrated into Proteus later this year.
“Proteus normalizes data automatically and puts it in the reports in real-time. That’s another great output for clients,” says Dobson. “We are now developing what is probably the world’s biggest and widest marketplace for digital inventory and digital solutions, and we have a technology stack that maximizes the opportunity to activate that. The big word for us is it’s scalable.”
That word is a big reason why The Exchange Lab — which has offices in London (its HQ) Toronto, New York, Montreal, Vancouver, Chicago, Los Angeles and Singapore with 125 staff globally, 32 in Canada — was bought by GroupM back in December 2015. GroupM not only saw the billion-dollar potential of the programmatic space, says Dobson, but it saw The Exchange Lab as the best partner to help it evolve from a classic advertising business to much more of a data and tech play.
“This is why they’re making strategic acquisitions like us. We’re central to that technology piece.”
Being GroupM’s “operating system for programmatic” has been a boon for The Exchange Lab from a client perspective. It’s given the company access to GroupM agency clients and its “buying power” has also led to a number of new direct relationships. The Exchange Lab’s client roster now stands at 700 globally.
Much of The Exchange Lab’s work of late has been focused on scale and security, with data privacy as a core priority. The company will also be incorporating GroupM’s trusted marketplace, which is renegotiated premium website inventory, into its solution. It’s much safer for advertisers, with guaranteed viewability and fraud thresholds.
The Exchange Lab has also been doing a lot of work around creativity lately. It recently partnered with Intercontinental Hotels Group in using Proteus to deliver dynamic creative, or content that’s customized for specific audience types, around the brand’s loyalty program.
“What programmatic is good for is testing creative and understanding how creative needs to be modified,” says Dobson. “More and more, dynamic creative, which changes based on how users react to it, is pushing some of our results through the roof.”
It’s about facilitating new ranges of opportunities. That’s how The Exchange Lab remains future proof.