Since the earliest days of the online advertising wars, the Casale family has been on the front lines. As publishers faced shrinking print revenue, the family pitched them on technology enabling them to make money from web advertising.
When Joe Casale established Casale Media in 2003, the company was one of the early entrants in the field, and it grew rapidly as media organizations hired such upstart tech outfits to help win web-based advertiser dollars.
“We’ve created a neutral, accountable marketplace enabling media companies to sell their ad space to publishers in real time,” says Joe’s son Andrew Casale, who heads Index Exchange, as Casale Media is now known (Joe is chairman). “Our technology helps facilitate transactions between marketers who want to buy a valuable ad slot for the lowest price possible and media companies who want to sell their inventory for the highest price.”
For the uninitiated, spending on digital ads works completely differently than for print or outdoor media campaigns. Advertisers bid in real time through online exchanges for the right to drop an ad onto a web page based on information about the user that’s been provided by the publisher. That’s why two people can visit the same news site at the very same moment and have completely different ads pop up.
Over the past 15 years, the firm built an impressive media client roster that includes the Globe and Mail, CBC, Bell Media, Condé Nast and the New York Times, and its fortunes improved as these media organizations concentrated on boosting online traffic. The Toronto-based company now has 450 employees; offices in Canada, the U.S., Europe and Australia; and is expanding globally. Casale has also invested aggressively in its own data centres and hardware as a means of ensuring security.
The world of online advertising is fraught. Ads can appear in an inappropriate context. Bots now exist to help websites overcharge by artificially inflating page view stats. Index Exchange strives to ensure that media clients receive the revenue advertisers have promised by improving transparency and automation in the bidding process.
As Andrew Casale says, Index Exchange was a “non-traditional” start-up that didn’t seek outside investors. “This journey has given our company an opportunity to control our destiny with full autonomy and no outside interests to control our business decisions.”
In the era of fake news, the company’s mission resonates with a certain moral authority that one doesn’t normally associate with the advertising world. Says Casale: “We know that now, more than ever, journalism is vitally important to our free democracy, and everything we do is to help transact advertising dollars in a fair and accountable manner.”