The following interview with VRTCAL’s founder and president, Todd Wooten, first appeared in salestechstar.com on September 25, 2020. The interview covers VRTCAL’s mission and specific value it brings in sales and marketing technology. The full article is reprinted below. You can also read the SalesTechStar interview here.
With increased pressure for lowering costs and increasing revenues, now
more than ever, sales / marketing teams will have to find ROI through
improved standards, better efficiencies in ad-path and technologies, as
well as better data types says Todd Wooten, Founder and President of VRTCAL while sharing
his thoughts on how adtech will evolve in the future and in what ways
marketing teams will have to optimize their plans to draw the best ROI from
programmatic capabilities. Catch the complete story:
Can you tell us a little about yourself Todd? How did the idea of VRTCAL
come about, since starting up, what have been some of the biggest
milestones / highlights?
I reside in Santa Barbara with my wife and our two high schoolers. Coming
from a financial and accounting information system background, I pivoted to
entrepreneurship in 1997. My experiences covered content management,
distribution networks and advertising mediation and technologies. In early
2016, I saw a big need for a mobile app focused tech-house. There were many
SSPs, but none that were innovating with a publisher-first approach. I went
on to found VRTCAL to serve as a complete mobile SSP platform. Since
inception, we have remained independent, and most recently launched a
first-of-its-kind SaaS service.
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How according to you will the AdTech / SSP space shape up in the near
future? What are current trends in this space in terms of interesting
innovations that are increasing in demand and user needs?
Looking towards the future, I see fewer participants in our sector
long-term that do not provide a unique or value-added service. In addition,
I believe this sector will evolve to become more transparent with less
fraud through the adoption of better standards, such as oRTB 3.0. Lastly, I
foresee a strategic shift for both advertisers and publishers that will
create more valuable supply and opportunity through better device data and
context data, and their efficient application will create more
opportunities for increased ROI for advertisers. Given the significant push
towards the privacy controls for users that we are currently seeing,
advertisers will need to find ways to meet their ROI targets in a
compliance heavy environment. Right now, I’m anticipating a rise in the
shift from personal information towards device and context data. For
example, with device data we can know if the user is engaged with the
device at the time of the ad call. This can eliminate a simple type of
fraud and determine if the ad is really being viewed. Additional uses of
device data are that specific marketers can target users based on current
temperature, humidity, light or altitude, among others. Context data can
determine many attributes such as if a user is happy, sad, frustrated or
hungry. These are moments during the content of the application, which
specific advertisers will want to know, and none involve any personal
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As the effects of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic still play out, what are
some of the top things you would say to sales and revenue generation teams,
to follow during this time; can you share a little about what changes
you’ve made at VRTCAL to thrive during these tough business times?
We must continue to forge ahead. If there was ever a time to
block-and-tackle, this is it. Remain focused on the customer’s needs and
the rest will work itself out. In our case, we knew early on that our
sector would be shifting. We did not down-size or furlough. Instead, the
sales and operations doubled down on communications and existing accounts
management. Our engineering still had deadlines, and we adjusted our
service-line to home in more on cost savings and profit margin efficiencies
for our clients as we knew those would be priorities.
How can sales and marketing further optimize their salestech and martech
stack in your view?
It’s critical to choose platform partners carefully. Today’s programmatic
capabilities are well developed, and many are able to perform based on
what’s required. I recommend a partner that has “more direct” relationships
with the publishers. Removing unnecessary participants between marketers
and the publishers is important for marketers’ ROI. The
closer a marketer is to the publisher, the higher the ROI for them, and
more revenue gets to the publisher. In today’s tech environment, this can
be done at scale. The more revenue the publishers receive, the more content
produced, which benefits all parties involved and creates a healthier
What are some of the ways in which you still see marketing and sales teams
in tech not utilizing the full capability of their sales and marketing
automation to target the right clients at the right time with the right
messaging…how would you tell them to fix this?
In today’s prebid and header bidding environment, there are a lot of wasted
resources in the sending, receiving, targeting, mediating and delivery of
ads. In the end, all that waste reduces advertiser ROI as they are the
spenders. If more efficiency could be attained in the sending, receiving,
mediating and delivery, then more resources could be utilized for effective
targeting. In order to solve this issue, it’s important to choose the
right, trusted partner with the most efficient supply path and the best
While remote work is still largely in place due to the ongoing Covid-19
pandemic even though businesses and economies are slowly inching towards
reopening, what are some of the thoughts you’d like to share for the global
workforce in general?
While our sector has always been more work-from-home friendly than others,
the need for better communication and trust can never be replaced. I
believe there will be a reduction in office use, but with that, comes a
trade-off. This may mean that new hires are located in-office, and then
evolve towards partial work-from-home as their communications and
productivity are established. This could create a 25% to 35% reduction
overall in office utilization, but ultimately, there will definitely be
less office time in the future. Offices are expensive to maintain, but
productivity is more important.
As a tech entrepreneur, in a challenging environment due to the Covid19
pandemic: how are you enabling a balanced remote work culture while
maintaining motivation levels?
At VRTCAL, calls, Slack, and Join.me upped their presence since the
pandemic began. I’m thankful that the sales-side of my personality is
strong, because the tech-side would have introverted quite easily during
this time. I maintain increased communication with my direct reports and
have a higher frequency of update inquiries to ensure the work-from-home
dynamic doesn’t cause problems or delays.