TubeMogul has hired longtime Neustar vet Rob Gatto as its chief operating officer as the company ramps up growth, AdExchanger has learned. An SEC Form 8-K filing indicates his last day at Neustar was March 30.
Neustar promoted Gatto to SVP of sales last winter after a two-year stint as the company’s SVP of media and advertising.
Gatto previously served as president of the data management platform Aggregate Knowledge through Neustar’s acquisition of the company in 2013. Before that, he was CEO of rich media company Pointroll.
Although Gatto declined to comment too extensively on his exit from Neustar, “What I can tell you is I enjoyed my time at Neustar,” he said. “Their strategy is strong and the acquisition path was the right one.”
Neustar lost a sizable government portability services contract to Ericsson in 2015, though executive confidence in Neustar’s marketing services business did not seem to wane.
At TubeMogul, Gatto is responsible for the company’s sales and client services teams, reporting directly to TubeMogul CEO Brett Wilson. It is a newly created position at the company.
“What Tube was doing from a software perspective with cross-screen advertising for brands is right in an area I thought was growing dramatically,” Gatto said. “We’ve really seen brand advertisers build out their marketing stack, and for me, it was a strong fit. My background is all about data, data management, media and analytics in enterprise software.”
Gatto spoke with AdExchanger about his transition to TubeMogul.
AdExchanger: Why is TubeMogul hiring a COO?
ROB GATTO: This probably sounds simple, but this company is growing so fast that Brett just needs help. Adding another executive who comes from the industry with knowledge across the things they’re trying to accomplish really frees him up to continue to work more strategically on where the company goes longer term. It allows us to move faster. I’ve run businesses larger than what we have [TubeMogul has about 500-plus employees now] so I think I bring value that, as we scale, we can do it efficiently.
What are you responsible for? In what ways it the same or different as Neustar?
I’ll manage the go-to-market, front-end activities, so typically sales and client services and all of the things that go along with that. From a mechanics perspective, those are all things I’ve done throughout my career. My focus has primarily been on media and analytics across formats, which carries over here. I think once you get into cross-screen, maybe the programmatic TV area, those are things Neustar hadn’t really touched, so I look forward to learning that part of the business.
Given your background in data and DMPs with Aggregate Knowledge, what does that portend for TubeMogul?
I spent a lot of my career selling enterprise software and believe most of this side of the market has been media oriented, not software oriented, which again, is what attracted me to TubeMogul. I know how advertisers think and buy platforms and I think that will benefit TubeMogul. I also grew up in the analytics world [Hyperion/Oracle and SPSS/IBM Analytics] and later applied it to media. I do believe that the folks who are going to win in this market are the ones who not only build the best platform, but also are able to help drive return on investment for their advertisers, which is all about analytics and measurement at the end of the day.
Will TubeMogul’s sales org shift along with new market demand?
This is in no way, shape or form a replacement of former leadership. This is about growth and scale and you’ll begin to see even more defined focuses on the sales side and the client services side will really look hard at how we continue to grow [a client’s footprint] and add value. Neustar was a little bigger organization from a sizing perspective and they had a number of businesses, but when you take what I ran on the sales side there and equate it to the product groups here, it’s similar in size.
How are you approaching relationships with agencies, such as the custom TV trading desk you built with IPG’s Cadreon?
Even in my Aggregate Knowledge days, we were seeing a lot of change. I think we’ll continue to support both brands and agencies. Both are a viable part of the ecosystem and there are advertisers who leave it to their agencies to plan and to build software, and we’ll continue to play a role there. Then there are advertisers who have chosen to build their own stacks. I don’t think it will ever be one or the other. I think it will be both. The platform we built is agnostic. But I do think you will see more advertisers continue to try and build their own stack because of data ownership. This whole concept of measurement and optimization in advertising comes from what data you use, much of which is first-party data.
Facebook’s pulled back on video exchange partners in the name of quality and is instead prioritizing direct deals and private marketplaces with LiveRail. Given Tube’s expanded partnership with Facebook, any thoughts?
I know people still think of programmatic as media and I firmly believe advertisers are beginning to understand programmatic is a strategy and not just a channel for remnant RTB inventory. As far as Facebook goes [and our ability to buy into the] Facebook newsfeed and Instagram … they’re interested in having their data be used and I see all sorts of opportunities for us to help them extend their footprint off of Facebook owned and operated. And I don’t think that does anything more than make us a more valuable partner for them. We drive a lot of demand into their media today and I don’t see that changing at all.