Connecting with Bill Sobel

Holding a BS in Business Administration from Washington University and an MBA from NYU, Andrew Pancer has been around the block a few times. In fact, when he joined Media6Degrees back in 2008, he had already compiled a considerably impressive resume.

During his tenure at About.com, Pancer tripled profits and brought revenues to more than $100 million dollars. He would later go on to serve as the vice president of digital development at the New York Times, where he began working with the kind of technologies he’s currently fleshing out at Dstillery.

Pancer sat down with CMSWire’s Bill Sobel to talk a little bit about his own professional journey, brand value and the advertising strategies he’s helping pioneer as the COO of Dstillery.

From Hating It to Lovin' It

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From a job he concedes he hated, Pancer reinvented his career. He did it at the right time, cresting the waves of social media, retargeting and new technologies in digital advertising.

Sobel: Tell us about your professional journey, from About.com and the New York Times to Dstillery.

Pancer: I started my career as a CPA and hated every minute of it. I quickly switched to the corporate side in the early ‘90s and held a variety of financial roles. In 2002, following the dot-com bubble burst, I was lucky enough to be offered the role of CFO of About.com. The company was a casualty of the economic downturn and I was brought in to help the management team turn the company around. We were successful. About.com became a very profitable enterprise and it was acquired by The New York Times Co. for $410 million in 2005. In 2008, I switched to a corporate role at the NYT focused on digital strategy and acquisitions. It was in this capacity that I started digging in on the concepts of retargeting and real time bidding.

Retargeting was starting to grow in its adoption and I believed that exchanges would continue to help drive its growth. But retargeting also had its challenges. The number of people you could target was limited to the number of people who visited your website. The founders of Media6Degrees, whom I had worked with previously, approached me with an incredible idea. They were leveraging social media data to find “friends” of people who were part of a retargeting pool. The theory was that birds of a feather flock together. People who are closely connected tend to share common purchasing behavior. So if one person is part of a retargeting pool, their friends would be great prospects. They called the idea “social targeting” and created a new category of digital advertising.

I joined Media6Degrees in Sept. 2008 and we launched officially in November of that year. Since then, the company has grown significantly. We have also evolved our methodology to use data from around the entire web, not just social media, and now incorporate mobile and location data to bring multiplatform intelligence to our clients. Last September, having completed the acquisition of mobile targeting company EveryScreen Media, we rebranded the combined entity Dstillery.

Sobel: At Dstillery, you’re pioneering new ways to create brand value by extracting signals from the complete customer journey and activating them across all screens. Can you break that down for us?