exclusive interview with engage:BDR

Engage BDR

Exclusive Q&A sessions with ad tech leaders are part of our commitment to helping you understand the U.S. digital network and tech ecosystem. We recently spoke with Ted Dhanik, President & CEO at engage:BDR, to find out how engage:BDR differs from its competition.

engage:BDR is an integrated-media advertising company with marketing solutions that provide brands high performing and cost effective display, mobile, and video advertising. engage:BDR houses a full-service ad network for performance and brand marketers, which supports CPA, CPC, CPL, and CPM, and is characterized by direct publisher relationships and premium inventory. All clients receive a dedicated account manager and ad optimization team to ensure highest quality of service and campaign results. engage:BDR also houses an RTB DSP, First-Impression, geared towards those who would like to have complete control over their campaign optimizations and settings. Thanks to Ted for speaking with us!

Kantar Media SRDS: Can you tell me about engage:BDR and the solutions you offer?

Ted Dhanik, President & CEO at engage:BDR: At engage:BDR, we are aiming to be in the middle of the buying and selling across both retail and whole-sale, meaning to channel partners and to the end advertiser. The way we're achieving this currently is through the two main drivers of our business.

Kantar Media SRDS: What is the first driver?

Dhanik: That would be Ad Network 1.0, our traditional ad network with a spin. Our spin is that we're buying media directly and exclusively from publishers. It’s always premium inventory, exclusively above the fold, first through fifth impression, comScore Top 1000 sites across 25 countries, etc. This happens through a direct media buying effort here at engage:BDR. We then sell direct to advertisers, agencies and demand partners.

Kantar Media SRDS: What is the second part of your business and how is it unique?

Ted DhanikDhanik: Our programmatic business. According to comScore, we are currently the #3 DSP/SSP/Ad Exchange Entity. engage:BDR is a huge DSP and SSP and we bring that together with our first business–the ad network–through our ad serving platform. Publishers like the fact that with our ad server, we get access to programmatic direct inventory, which we then auction to the DSPs that are plugged in to our SSP. We are able to provide incremental and premium inventory on RTB where it normally does not exist. That's our edge on the DSP side and why we're different. We're providing access to inventory programmatically that is purchased direct from the publisher or the publisher is using our ad server. And it's always comScore Top 1000 sites, etc. Other DSPs can plug in to our SSP as well, so they're in essence, competing against us for our own inventory. It's a great situation because we're creating a true RTB marketplace as opposed to what we're used to. That opportunity for premium inventory to be sold programmatically doesn’t exist anywhere else. We're changing the online advertising space and it makes us different from other providers.

Kantar Media SRDS: Can you tell us about engage:BDR’s origins?

Dhanik: I worked at Myspace from 2003-2008, trying to solve a unique challenge. Myspace was monetizing their inventory very poorly. The effective CPM was closer to 1 or 2 cents across 7-10 billion impressions a day. I saw a big spread between what the ad networks were paying and what the direct clients were paying (as far as the rate card for inventory). We saw that this was a big opportunity to make money for us and provide more value for Myspace. I left Myspace in 2008 to start engage:BDR. Initially our existence was purely based on selling Myspace inventory. We did that very well and profitably for a few months. Then we had a demand from other sites, and the same clients were buying all this other media. We quickly became more of a spot-buying ad network where all the campaigns that we're buying for were placement-specific, site-specific or impression curve-specific. We grew from there. We officially launched in January 2009. We’ve grown from 3 to about 50 people and we also have office in India. We haven’t raised any money to date and we've been profitable since we started.

Kantar Media SRDS: How is engage:BDR different from its competitors?

Dhanik: We’re one of the few companies that are prominent in our space doing what we’re doing. We don’t have any direct competitors. It's rare that you find an ad tech company that has all these capabilities–specifically a DSP, SSP and ad serving technology. Plus, it’s all proprietary. That's a key differentiator. Further, many of the ad networks that are still around are on the App Nexus platform. We're actually a partner of App Nexus (it's a SSP for our DSP and vice versa). We're living parallel to them. We're not on their platform, which is another key differentiator.

Kantar Media SRDS: Can you tell give us other examples of ways that engage:BDR isn’t limited like some other players?

Dhanik: We're agnostic from the standpoint of demand partners and supply partners. If you're a media buyer looking to use our DSP and you have a requirement for a specific supply partner to be plugged in, then we'll plug them in. We welcome those opportunities. We'll plug into anyone that you, as a demand partner, would like us to integrate. Some of the other platforms don't take those requests at all. On SSP side, if you're a publisher leveraging our ad serving platform for its SSP, and you have demand partners that are buying media from you with tags, and they are RTB-enabled, we'll plug them in for you. Again, we welcome those opportunities and other players won't. That becomes a compelling discussion point with the brands and our publishers.

Kantar Media SRDS: Can you tell me what’s new or on the horizon for engage:BDR?

Dhanik: We will be going public with our viewable impression product once it’s certified to the 3MS standard (Making Measurement Make Sense). [3MS is a joint undertaking of the IAB, the ANA and the 4A’s. It is an ecosystem-wide initiative that aims to develop digital metrics and advertising currency that facilitate cross-platform measurement and evaluation of media.] The viewable impression product measures true engagement on a display unit vs. selling an impression that never gets seen. That's going to be very differentiating.

Kantar Media SRDS: How does this product combat click or display fraud?

Dhanik: This viewable impression solution is our response to this fraud. Click fraud occurs when a bot manipulates clicks on display ads by generating false clicks or traffic to drive up advertiser costs. It dilutes ROI because these clicks are essentially fake and don’t lead to conversions because they aren’t done by users. However, bots can't create a fraudulent impression on our viewable model because they are computer programs, and can't perform those specific actions that distinguish a genuine user from a fake one. Through our solution, a publisher can sell time-slots of an impression when it is in-view on the page. If the impression is in-view, we can see that, and then a timeslot is sold. That is in contrast to a pixel being fired just at the beginning of an impression. Now, a pixel is fired at the beginning of the impression and the end of the timeslot. Imagine if you have a 30-second timeslot of the impression and the page-view time is 20 seconds. We load your ad all the time and if the second pixel doesn’t fire, you do not get charged for it. You might have a million impressions at 20 seconds that are basically free for you because it just didn’t hit that 30 second mark. It’s a really compelling product and a real response to this fraud.

Kantar Media SRDS: Why does a media planner or marketer come to engage:BDR?

Dhanik: It’s really dependent on the client. On the agency side, many come in when they’re in the planning and pre-planning stage. We work with so many types of demand partners so really anytime is a good to become familiar with engage:BDR. We also get a lot of last-minute requests too; use it before you lose it budgets. We are seeing about 30 billion bid requests per day and because we have the reach, we can easily deliver.

Kantar Media SRDS: What channels do you work with at engage:BDR?

Dhanik: On the full-service side, we're on video, mobile and display from a channel perspective. We're a video ad network and we’re soon to be video for RTB, SSP and DSP. We’re currently mobile and display across RTB.

Kantar Media SRDS: How many publishers do you work with?

Dhanik: On the direct side, there are more than 2,500 publishers we actually buy media from. On the programmatic side, we have site IDS for more than 100,000 websites.

Kantar Media SRDS: Who can users contact at engage:BDR with questions?

Dhanik: Ed Lee, our VP of Business Development, can be reached at

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