Vitaly Pecherskiy came to the digital advertising space almost by accident.
The COO and co-founder of StackAdapt, a self-serve DSP (Demand Side Platform) founded in 2013 to apply data, analysis and machine learning to online advertising, told AdNews that after graduating with a degree in finance, he “stumbled into an eight-person start-up” building a platform on top of Facebook's ads API.
“The company got acquired the following year and then I went to work at one of the holdcos,” Pecherskiy said.
“The guy that I was on an account with, we bonded over the poor state of software. Five months later, we thought there's a clear opportunity to do better, so we left and co-founded StackAdapt.”
Pecherskiy, who co-founded the company with Ildar Shar, who serves as CEO, and Yang Han, who is CTO, said that the trio understood the pain points of future customers because they were building the platform they wished they had back when they were marketers.
“We always wanted to have a great web platform that customers can themselves operate - not wanting to build a trading platform, but rather have a solution,” said Pecherskiy.
“The customers that we typically work with are mostly agencies, and they are the ones that typically juggle many different channels and platforms, so they don't really have a lot of bandwidth to just dedicate a person to manage one platform full time.
“They choose to work with us when they just want to get to outcomes efficiently and we handle the heavy lifting of automation on our platform. It started with just the three of us and now we’ve grown to a team of over 1,000 people, but I still feel like we’re just getting started and there’s still lots to build.”
That exponential growth for the nearly decade-old adtech based out of Toronto, Canada – which saw them hire 500 people globally last year alone – traces back to only a few years, when the company’s plans for growth coincided with the start of the pandemic.
“We started hiring people in the USA, but our first country outside of North America was the UK, where we sent a couple of people and now the team there is over 100,” said Pecherskiy.
“We saw really great traction, so we figured ‘we can do this again’. We launched into the Australian market last year and it’s such a big opportunity. Our growth in Australia has actually been faster than in the UK. We haven't been in the market as long, but if you look at quarter by quarter when we entered, the rate of growth is actually faster, which is really reassuring.”
StackAdapt's co-founders Ildar Shar, Yang Han and Vitaly Pecherskiy
Pecherskiy said that being able to rapidly scale up its operations in the region is not just testament to StackAdapt and having a playbook of how to do this from expanding into other markets, but also the Australian market being very conducive to doing business.
“If we think about why we chose Australia, obviously it's a big market and business wise, very similar to North America, but from a programmatic perspective it's developed,” Pecherskiy told AdNews.
“We didn't have to go to Australia and basically start explaining what programmatic is. The flip side of it is that in a market that's more mature, you have more competition, but in my view competition is a good thing, because that tells you that there's a lot of dollars out there.
“In the case where people already do programmatic, we can go in and show them how we can do things better. That's a much easier sell than explaining to somebody what programmatic is and then selling them on something so complex as a programmatic platform. All these factors combined, it made Australia a very obvious choice and certainly allow us to really invest knowing that we're going to be successful there.”
Looking ahead to where the digital advertising space is headed, Pecherskiy says that while there's a lot of things he thinks will be total speculation, the company is also placing some bets on the future - AI becoming the default, video as a format continuing to increase in relevance and software-enabled operations of advertising rising in importance.
“When we started in 2014, we started as a native advertising platform. We thought this is going to be a fast growing ad format, so we started with that and then very quickly started expanding into new formats,” Pecherskiy said.
“But in 2014, nobody talked about connected TV, nobody talked about digital out of home, nobody talked about contextual advertising. All these things were discovered, invented or built by virtue of just staying really, really focused on new, emerging opportunities.
“Part of our future strategy is running a company where we can really rapidly deploy resources to take advantage of these new, emerging opportunities. Time and time again, we've been able to do so, and that's a capability that I want us to maintain as we go forward.”
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