With over 16 years experience in the advertising arena, Michael Steckler can add just about every performance medium to his working history. His career history spans from working in telesales for a publishing company through to delivering performance-based display in his current role with Criteo.
After graduating from the University of Sussex with a BA (Hons) in Politics, Michael soon found his feet working for large publishing company, Haymarket Publishing. On board for Telesales, it was an interesting time to be working within trade and consumer magazines, with the launches of FHM, Loaded, FourFourTwo and What Hi-Fi?
The competitive nature of the magazine industry at the time gave Michael a good grounding for sales and he soon found himself working for Clear Channel as Head of Agency Sales. During his four years at Clear Channel, Michael’s remit was to grow large deals through different advertising agencies, broadening his media knowledge.
In early 2000, Michael became part of the MSN UK fledgling business – which now operates with around 400 employees. In its infancy, search relationships were big for MSN and its main business relationship was with Overture. The rise of competitors including Altavista, Yahoo and Lycos was nothing in comparison to the incredible entrance into search that Google was making. It was also the time when MSN Messenger (now Windows Live Messenger) exploded in the UK. Its unprecedented success enabled Michael and other MSN UK employees to expand their success into MSN Europe.
MSN UK had grown significantly by the time Michael joined AOL in June, 2007. Joining as Managing Director of AOL UK, Michael’s remit was to take AOL’s broadband heritage from a 'walled garden' to a fully-fledged ad supported web services company.
Platform-A was born
Recent acquisitions of ad firm Tacoda and affiliate marketing networks: Buy.at and Advertising.com enabled web services to be created and it was here that Platform-A was born.
Michael’s belief in the UK market’s drive for increased technological sophistication and performance driven accountability complimented Platform-A’s offering – they had the depth in the acquired products; an Affiliate platform, Ad-Network and a CPM Portal.
Having heard a lot about buy.at from then CEO Kevin Cornils, this was Michael’s first dealing with the Affiliate Marketing Industry. He was fascinated by the affiliate channel and the culture of the industry in terms of how fast paced and agile it was.
According to Michael, the launch of Platform-A was very successful and enabled AOL to compete with the likes of Microsoft and Yahoo in the online display advertising world
Display is undervalued
After 16 years working in and around corporate technologies, Michael knew that his commercial passion involved working with technology-based companies that are looking to disrupt or approach the market in a different way to make a difference. It was these ideas that made the move to Criteo attractive and fulfilling.
Already a market leader globally for retargeting, Michael currently heads up Northern Europe as Managing Director for Criteo.
"Display has always been an undervalued medium in terms of what it can deliver" says Michael
"Yes, UK display is already performance driven and also has a strong correlation to improved branding metrics such as favourability or brand recall much like traditional advertising. With Criteo we have taken a significant step forward in creating a performance based display platform that has allowed, ecommerce companies to re-consider the efficacy of display alongside search and other performance marketing channels"
After providing education on ‘what it was’ and ‘what it does’, Michael felt that Criteo’s UK launch was very successful.
"As a very visible product it was embraced by advertisers very quickly. We can now boast a retention rate of 98 per cent for advertisers who test and then stay working with Criteo" added Michael.
When discussing retargeting and affiliates, Michael believes that there is a big opportunity for affiliates to utilise retargeting. Due to the high click-through rates that Criteo experiences, he is certain that they have created a model that could work for Affiliates with a display-based banner, “there’s definitely a benefit to these partnerships”, Michael says.
The future for Display
“Having already seen significant growth over the past two to three years, there is no reason why this can’t continue, Michael said. This coupled with the fact that more advertisers are moving towards performance-based advertising utilising data, I fully expect the growth to continue.”
“In 12 months time I think there will be a significant number of ad-impressions that are bought in real-time. We are already seeing this steady shift in Europe and the US.“I would also expect that ad-exchanges will continue to grow alongside this and more publishers will be able to get incremental value and increase yield by putting inventory into these different platforms”