The Jay Sears Interview -- Art Muldoon, CEO and Co-Founder, Accordant Media

By Archived Rubicon Project Archives
Cover image for  article: The Jay Sears Interview -- Art Muldoon, CEO and Co-Founder, Accordant Media

Continuing a recent series of interviews with global trading desk heads that recently culminated in his Six Advertising Automation Trends for Buyers and Sellers, Jay Sears, SVP at Rubicon Project, trades questions and answers with Art Muldoon of the independent trading desk Accordant Media.

Also read Jay Sears' interview with Paul Rostkowski, President, Varick Media Management.

Your Name: Art Muldoon

Your Company: Accordant Media

Your Title: Co-Founder & CEO

What Flavor Ice Cream Best Describes Your Management Style: Coffee Heath Bar Crunch – highly caffeinated expectations balanced by crunchy-sweet surprises along the way.

SEARS: On average—out of each $1.00 spent on media (all media, not just digital) by one of your advertisers, how much today is spent on automated or programmatic channels?

MULDOON: Our clients are investing perhaps $0.04 to $0.09 of each media dollar on programmatic.

SEARS: What was this number two years ago, in 2011?

MULDOON: $0.02

SEARS: What will this number be two years from now, in 2015?

MULDOON: $0.18. Excluding search, that number was $0.00 to $0.02 two years ago. We are only at the initial phases of growth and spending a lot of time educating clients and testing into various programmatic channels and tactics. The “big 4” programmatic channels today are display, video, mobile and social. We are also testing into in-stream audio, DOOH, email and addressable tv solutions. Combined, these eight channels will boost the adoption of programmatic media.

SEARS: Describe how most media is bought and sold today.

MULDOON: The media process essentially consists of planning, buying, tracking and reporting activities. There are different nuances to the process depending on the type of media and advertising/creative objectives involved. There are also nuances based on the agency and the agency/client relationship. Programmatic media processes are nimble and agile. Some media planners still tell us they can’t consider programmatic because “they’re already planned out for the following six months.” That is the broken part of the traditional planning mindset and is a disservice to marketers.

SEARS: Tell us the about Accordant Media.

MULDOON: Accordant is a pure-play programmatic media solutions company. We support leading media agencies and marketers directly as an audience-targeting specialist. We bring a spirit of collaboration and true media insights to our clients by being 100% transparent, data-focused and providing expert services and customization that provides competitive advantage. We are unlike agencies given our product engineering and software development/IP focus. We are unlike pure technology companies given our attention to expert campaign execution and optimization services.

SEARS” Please tell us:

  • Overall managed budget (media spend) for your trading desk, expected 2013 GLOBAL:

o MULDOON: [No answer]

  • Percentage increase, managed budget (media spend) 2012 vs. expected 2013 [Global only #]:

o MULDOON: 135%

  • How many employees globally?


SEARS: What are Accordant Media’s three biggest initiatives for 2014?


1. Cross-channel, cross-screen: we are working to deliver a simplified, integrated, programmatic audience targeting solution that unlocks scale and media efficiencies for advertisers.

2. Quality media: we are working with publishers/SSPs/exchanges, ad verification/security partners and our internal data analytics and engineering teams to create programmatic buying tools and processes to help advertisers tap high-quality environments and occasions to reach their desired audiences.

3. Programmatic media analytics: we are focused on continuously enhancing our analytics at both the micro campaign level and macro channel/industry level to understand and communicate the value of the sector.

SEARS: By 2015, what percentage of total media spend across your clients will be programmatic?

MULDOON: As an independent programmatic media company, Accordant supports all flavors of agencies, whether they are part of a holding company or fiercely independent. While programmatic media spending may represent only 7% to 12% of total media at the holding company level by 2015, we are focused on specific agencies and marketers who will allocate 20% - 40% of their media to programmatic initiatives.

SEARS: To reach a higher adoption of direct deal automation and use of the programmatic channel, what are the major impediments to overcome? Rank these in numerical order:


_5_ Operational or workforce issues inside the holding companies or operating agencies

_2_ Premium (direct deal) inventory availability via programmatic

_1_ Lack of proper ad technology

_5_ Alignment of agency compensation models

_3_ Settlement of audience data ownership/tracking among consumers, publishers, advertisers and intermediaries

MULDOON: There has been a lot of investment in the programmatic industry over the past five years that has resulted in a lot of great and not-so-great engineering and development efforts. With all the technology piping and knowledge out there, the hurdle now is in finding simpler integrations to deliver on the premise of scale and efficiencies – and better advertising for marketers and consumers. Closely tied to this success, premium publishers need to be more transparently committed to programmatic media solutions, and we as an industry need to invent a better structure to reconcile consumer’s privacy requirements with publisher’s and advertiser’s desire to enhance the value of their audience data.

SEARS: How are RFPs used between your operating agency clients and your trading desk? What does a “Programmatic IO” or a “Programmatic RFP” look like?

MULDOON: While we do have campaigns based on a programmatic IO, the more data-driven audience targeted campaigns leverage Accordant’s DMP and Audience Optics analytics services. RFPs help us get in the door, but we look to engage in a deeper, more strategic relationship with clients.

SEARS: What should top comScore publisher CROs do to build their direct order automation and programmatic selling with your trading desk and operating agencies?

MULDOON: Programmatic is not a race to the bottom. We support publishers who are committing better-quality inventory and audience information into the programmatic system by paying higher prices for inventory that works better for advertisers. We want to see publishers support their sales teams to transact programmatically and offer buyers more information about their inventory – audience, placement, availability, etc.

SEARS: Why is direct deal automation so important? Is it important?

MULDOON: Direct deal automation enhances the relationship between publishers and advertisers. Advertisers need to achieve both the ability to reach increasingly fragmented target audiences through direct supply relationships and the ability to aggregate multiple niche-targeting tactics together to generate scale efficiencies. Automation solves for this.

SEARS: All of you work for global companies. What global markets are the leaders and laggards in programmatic?

MULDOON: Accordant publishes a quarterly RTB Market Pulse Report. In our recent Q3 report, we highlighted the top five global markets in terms of RTB share of auction volume, in order: US, Brazil, UK, Germany and Canada. Further, Russia, Australia and Brazil are among the fastest-growing markets.

SEARS: If you could travel for pleasure anywhere in the world, to a place you have never been, where would you go?

MULDOON: Someday, I look forward to going on a safari in Zambia or Kenya with my wife and young daughters.

SEARS: If you were trapped alone on a desert island and needed to choose one ad holding company CEO to accompany you ( other than your own holding company CEO) which CEO would you pick and why?

MULDOON: Matt Greitzer, who will be CEO of the largest new-age programmatic media holding company at the time I find myself washed up on that island!

SEARS: When is the last time you went out for a three martini lunch?

MULDOON: In 1994, the day before I began my career in digital media and technology!

SEARS: Thanks, Art!

Jay Sears (right) is GM, REVV buyer for the Rubicon Project. Sears is responsible for global relations withJay Searsthe buy side including ad holding companies, ad agencies, agency trading desks and demand side platforms headquartered in North America. Jay can be reached at

Art Muldoon is CEO of Accordant Media, which he co-founded in early 2010. Accordant has grown to become the leading independent programmatic media buying specialist company, offering agencies and direct advertisers a powerful real-time biddable media “trading desk” system that encompasses integrated on-demand media tools and technologies, the Audience OpticsTM data management system (DMP) and an expert team delivering custom services.

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