Those receiving an email from Mark Zagorski will no longer see the signature tag "chief revenue officer" at eXelate after his name. As of Wednesday, it reads "chief executive officer" for the Israeli company headquartered in New York.
So, MediaPost caught up with Zagorski by phone to ask the difference between CRO and CEO duties at the 30-person company, which focuses on data for online ad targeting based on consumer behavior or providing data management and tools for publishers. "When you're the CRO you can still point the finger at someone else," he says, jokingly.
As the CRO, Zagorski handled just the business side of transactions. Now, as CEO, he oversees both the technology and the business strategy. Meir Zohar, eXelate's founder and former CEO, will remain as an executive for the company as he returns to Israel. There are plans to add about 30 employees in 2011.
Research firm eMarketer projects a 10.5% increase in U.S. online ad spending next year, followed by double-digit growth every year through 2014, when spending will reach $40.5 billion.
The focus in 2011 for the industry will become more relevant and higher-performing advertisements driven by data that is "privacy friendly and efficient." Zagorski believes the online advertising industry continues to grapple with an undervalued inventory ecosystem. "We need to clean that up," he says.
In terms of the privacy issues related to data collection, Zagorski says "obviously the industry isn't getting out the correct message."
Most of the 840 U.S. adult Internet users participating in a USA Today and Gallup poll study released earlier this week are aware that advertisers tap online browsing history to target ads -- but many oppose that tactic, even if it helps to keep content free. When asked whether advertisers should be allowed to match ads to specific interests based on Web sites visited, 67% said no; the remainder said yes. The bright spot for advertisers in this poll is that when given the choice, consumers prefer advertisers of their choosing to target them with ads.
Advertisers need to become more direct when it comes to communicating with consumers. They need to say "hey, we're going to drop a cookie on you and in exchange for that to deliver more relevant content. Does that make sense to you?" Moving to a cleaner and content-driven Web driven by relevancy works better for both consumers and advertisers.
If consumers really knew what happens with their data it wouldn't seem as nefarious to them, Zagorski says. "We're just capturing information and delivering ads based on their interests," he says. "If you ask consumers if they would rather have a bunch of punch-the-monkey ads without frequency caps and continually showing up on sites or something more interesting to them they would respond differently."
Zagorski suggests the industry should launch a series of clever social videos to get out the message. In other words, the industry should eat some of its own dog food, tapping viral videos to inform consumers about privacy and data use.
A television ad campaign wouldn't hurt either, Zagorski agrees, but larger companies with deeper pockets need to spearhead efforts. Aside from privacy, in the next year, the industry will see a growing focus on who owns the data.