Spotlight: Machine

Machine-Gary-Danks FeaturedWith so many companies in the digital advertising Lumascape – around 1,800 at last count – you could be forgiven for wondering whether the world really needs another one. But Gary Danks, co-founder of UK startup Machine, argues that his company is helping to cut through the confusion, rather than adding to it.

Prior to founding Machine in June 2015 with mobile brand and marketing consultant Danny Jones, Danks spent seven years as UK MD of mobile ad firm YOC. Machine, as he describes it, is a piece of technology that sits on top of the mobile advertising ecosystem. By tapping into individual vendors’ APIs, Machine can create and execute a campaign using the vendors and tools that are working most efficiently and most effectively at any given point in time. And switching allegiance when another vendor starts performing better, the decision based on historical data and generic campaign KPIs such as clickthrough rates, win rates and price.

Technology aggregator
I put it to Danks that Machine sounds like a DSP (Demand Side Platform) aggregator. If so, given that DSPs tend to fish in the same inventory pool anyway, what’s the point?
“Yes, Machine aggregates DSPs, but not just DSPs,” he replies. “We aggregate all ad technologies used in the delivery of a mobile campaign, including ad networks, tracking tools and DMPs (Data Management Platforms). Aggregating all this data in one platform offers complete transparency and unparalleled insight for the advertiser.”

In fact, he says, the fishing analogy is a good way to describe the benefits of Machine.
“In theory, DSPs all fish in the same inventory pool, but the problem is they all use different bait and are positioned in different areas around the pool,” he says. “Some are successful fishermen and some go hungry, and this changes by the day. The DSP which caught all the fish on Monday may not catch any on Tuesday. Machine uses all the DSPs at once, creating a net which covers the whole pond. I’d much rather fish with a net than a single rod.”

But what about the relationships that exist between, say, DSPs and their data partners? If a campaign switches from DSP 1 to DSP 2, but DSP 1 has a more effective location data partner, won’t the benefit of the more accurate location data be lost?

No, says Danks, explaining that Machine isolates each of the different technologies within the marketplace, which means it can pick and mix, regardless of existing partnerships between DSPs and their data and other partners. So in the above scenario, even if the campaign switched from DSP 1 to DSP 2, it would still take location data from DSP 1’s data partner if that was more accurate.

The technology powering Machine is proprietary, built in the UK by the company’s own development team. The company is currently plugged into 10 DSPs and 5 ad networks, and has attracted two big agency groups – Omnicom and GroupM – and advertisers including Canon and Cisco, to the platform.

“Machine is the ultimate trading desk tool that a big agency group or advertiser can use to market at scale,” says Danks. “It offers complete transparency and is a much more efficient way to access the entire marketplace through one platform. It also has a very clear, simple-to-understand UI. If a campaign demands lat/long data, for example, the vendors that offer it will be visible on the dashboard; the ones that don’t will be greyed out.”

One of the key reasons that traditional high street brands are not spending at scale on mobile in the way that mobile-first brands like Uber and are, says Danks, is the rampant confusion, congestion and fragmentation in the mobile advertising space.

If Machine really can deliver on its promise to reduce or eliminate these frustrations completely, it will deserve every penny it makes in doing so.