Former Havas Digital Chief Wants To Ad Targeting Of Online Searchers

Don Epperson, the former global CEO of Havas Digital, and a pioneer in the field of so-called "demand-side" platforms for managing online media buys, is back, and he's teaming with two former Collective Media execs to launch a new platform they claim will take search marketing to a new level, allowing marketers to target display ads at online searchers on a keyword-by-keyword basis.

Epperson's new platform, dubbed, sounds anything but, though he promises the results will do for search targeting what an earlier generation of demand-side systems did for disaggregated online display advertising.

"We believe we are in the early stages of a significant transformation of the online advertising business," Epperson tells Online Media Daily (see accompanying Q&A).

The shift, Epperson says, is part of a broader move in the media industry from buying media inventory to buying audiences. Epperson helped pioneer that shift at Havas by developing Adnetik, the first major demand-side display advertising platform to come out of an agency holding company.



The launch of comes just as Epperson's one-year, non-compete agreement expires with Havas. He left the agency in January 2009 to do something entrepreneurial. Epperson originally became part of Havas when he sold Hook Media, an early stage digital advertising agency, to the French agency holding company. One of the key assets within Hook was Artemis, a database management system that harnesses unique user profile data, and which is the heart of the Adnetik platform.

Joining Epperson as's top management team, are two former top technology executives from Collective Media: Frost Prioleau , who will serve as CEO; and Paul Harrison, who will be's chief technology officer. They had been CEO and president-chief technology officer of an earlier stage behavioral targeting company named Personifi, which was sold to Collective Media in 2008, where they later served as general manager of technology solution, and chief technology officer, respectively. has offices in Boston and Fort Worth, Texas.

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