Interview With Roman Vrublivskyi From SmartHub, United States

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Roman Vrublivskyi

Roman, along with SmartHub, recently introduced White Label Ad Exchange. It is a programmatic, white-label RTB solution that facilitates ad tech market entry for companies.

Interview With Roman Vrublivskyi From SmartHub, United States

Interview with the 2021 TITAN Business Awards Winner - Roman Vrublivskyi

1Please provide us with a brief bio of yourself.

SmartHub White Label Ad Exchange is a programmatic, white-label RTB solution designed to facilitate ad tech market entry for companies that plan to set up their own branded marketplaces.

2Whats is your role in the company?

Roman Vrublivskyi - Chief Commercial Officer

Nikita-Anastasia Bansal - Director of SmartHub

Helen Zolotavina - Project Manager

Julia Ivankova - Account Management Team Lead

Nataliia Burylo - B2B Marketing & Communications Manager

There are also account managers and web-developers who are deeply involved in what SmartHub is.

3Please tell us more about your organization.

SmartHub was created in 2018. It was a time when a small team of skilled professionals grew their own internal programmatic expertise. After this they started to provide enterprises with robust technologies based on which enterprises could build their own independent ad marketplaces.

With our platform, customers can leverage technology that enables the most rapid market entry, continuing growth, scaling and transformation of their businesses. Over the last couple of years, SmartHub has upgraded technology so much that it is now possible to deploy a programmatic marketplace in just 7 days. We also offer such rare services as ad tech outstaffing.

In these 3 years, our team spent 6,700+ hours on designing and building AdTech platforms for our clients. We have over 70+ satisfied clients - companies that started/strengthened their ad businesses with SmartHub. We’ve also created a very responsive customer service team full of talented people who are well-versed in numerous disciplines including tech, advertising, business development and client relationships.

SmartHub has significantly evolved since July 1 2019 - both in terms of technology and human resources. During 2020, SmartHub survived a global economic crisis and successfully entered a new technologic cycle, during which the business expanded to a new market – Israel - then explored the Asian region (Hong Kong, China), LATAM (Argentina, Uruguay), USA and Eastern Europe (Russia, Ukraine). Also in 2020, SmartHub technology was adopted by 59 new customers. Income in 2020 increased in comparison to 2019 which is substantial growth for a young investment project.

Our agile approach, responsiveness to the market's change and attentiveness to the needs of our clients have defined the success of our product. During 2020, the team spent over 2,700 hours designing and building AdTech platforms for our clients. Сlient-centricity is central to our strategy; that’s why, in 2020, we’ve optimally redistributed the SmartHub team and augmented expertise in technologies that boost the businesses of our customers.

These are our unique functionalities that differentiate SmartHub:

Very intuitive system that can be used even by people that have zero technical or ad tech backgrounds.

Different QPS plans for platform scaling enable increasing the platform capacities without attracting developers and stopping the operation for technical reasons.

Ability to analyze and control traffic, payments, and overall performance. Performance stats across ad formats, traffic types, traffic health, lowest and highest bids and more.

The widest range of formats that are able to satisfy demand partners who buy a desktop, in-app, mobile web, CTV medium ads and formats like banner, video, native, pop, push.

SmartHub technology has a strong server infrastructure located in USA East and USA West, APAC region and Europe, that guarantees that ads are rendered instantly and are of impeccable quality.

Outstaffed employees specifically selected and educated to suit the client’s business objectives.

4Describe the industry your organization is specialized in, as well as its main characteristics.

Ad tech is a multi-billion-dollar business niche - AI and ML based automation and smart optimization algorithms redefined the landscape of media-buying and media-selling completely. With RTB, header-bidding and other programmatic mechanisms it became possible to buy and sell inventory uber effectively and almost without human interaction. Such efficiency, however, came with a cost - programmatic advertising chains are incredibly complicated and sometimes it is very hard to investigate the margins, commissions that service providers charge. Because of the increased complexity of programmatic chains the path of each impression might be too long which also creates the problem with bid duplication. Finally, it becomes hard to predict where the impression will be served and at what cost.

During the past couple of years a great share of brands and entrepreneurs started shifting to in-house programmatic as a way to eliminate third-parties and solve the problem with transparency. In-house programmatic was adopted by the largest brands like Unilever, Kellogg, Netflix, Procter & Gamble, Intel and the list goes on. However, going in-house is not something every company can afford, especially during the pandemic (as building ad tech platform from scratch requires huge investments and time).

White-label enables a company to “borrow” already tested and tried technology from an established company-developer (manufacturer), label it as their own and capitalize on it by reselling to their own clients. This way, a company with a humble starting capital can create and put to business a new solution in less than a month (or even a week). The company provider, meanwhile, oftentimes provides guidance and additional support to the company that enters the ad tech business for the first time.

If previously it was a big challenge to raise and maintain an independent ad tech platform (or take programmatic in-house), today, new business models - like white-label - make the process easy, affordable and risk-free. Most likely, the white label model will become the next big thing in ad tech, as it paves the way to independence and ultimate media-buying control.

5Congratulations! As the winner of the TITAN Business Awards, what does it mean for you and your team to receive this distinction?

We deeply appreciate the TITAN Business Awards 2021 for recognizing our customer satisfaction strategy on the international scale. Being the Gold Winner in the Customer Service category is a strong motivation for the entire SmartHub team to proceed with our best customer success practices as we become better every day. The win we want to dedicate to our clients.

6How has winning an international award help promote your organization?

We know that reputation is building for years thanks to the constant development and dedication to your business, partners and clients. International awards are serving as an unbiased way to check our competitors` power and destinations let the expert judges make their conclusions about us. Being featured as a Gold Winner in the Customer Service category by the TITAN Business Awards 2021 for SmartHub is a great motivation to proceed with our best practices. Our partners and new clients understand that the service we provide is really worth being trusted.

7What are the challenges of developing / marketing your winning entry(ies)?

Very narrow and specialized product niche that appeals only to certain enterprises.

Little awareness and depth of expertise in programmatic among the target audiences (thus, the majority of companies do not realize the scope of the problem and media budgets they lose while building ad tech platforms from scratch).

Insufficient representation of equivalent products on the market (thus, potential customers don't know what to expect from such a product and how it can simplify media trading).

8As a business owner, please tell us more about your ideation process.

Each of our ideas is dictated by the latest changes and trends on the martech and adtech markets. As we have clients throughout the world that trust us, it's essentially important for us to go at the same speed as the modern world and quickly implement the latest technologies and trends into our white-label ad exchange platform. We monitor such trends regularly but most importantly, we actively implement the new functionalities and features based on the feedback of our clients - it helps us to pinpoint what customers in our niche want to see in the product like SmartHub. SmartHub contains on the one platform RTB with first-price, second-price, and the custom types of auction, VAST, Prebid technologies.

9What is your own definition of a successful team / organization / business?

High professionalism.

Friendliness and openness.

Passion to what you are doing.

Striving to constant development and new knowledge.

Flexible approach to clients` needs.

Dedication to working process.

Transparency with colleagues, partners clients.

Keep the agreements and do the best.

10What led you / your organization to become successful within the industry you are currently in?

The two key components of our success are technology and people. Our white-label technology is innovative since it enables an easy and affordable ad tech business set up. Still, as practice showed, a handful of other white-label tech providers offer only technology and basic support, while many enterprises that start business in this niche step on this ground for the first time. Thus, they need profound guidance and extended support so we decided to make the accent on this.

We help our clients not just set up their own ad exchange but also plan an efficient strategy, share our own SSPs and DSPs partners list for the immediate media trading of our client, and create a transparent and highly-trusted media-trading space. Instead of dealing with platform support, maintenance, scaling or updating, our clients count on SmartHub’s ongoing platform support and focus on their business objectives instead. SmartHub`s all-encompassing customer support allows our clients to focus on their ad tech business while we maintain its efficiency. This is what helps us to be successful within the ad tech industry

11How has the country, you are based in, helped move your industry forward?

At this point the majority of countries around the world, including ours, start to realize that ad tech solutions like ours have a great importance as they help to alleviate the problems with insufficient programmatic chain transparency and walled gardens. Our country and the rest of countries alike are currently developing a favorable legislative climate for the development of the ad tech business sector.

We’d also want to add that among our clients are companies and private entrepreneurs from around the whole world. We are not country-related and so are our clients. We believe that in the post-pandemic world business will be developed remotely with the same high level of efficiency and professionalism.

12What have you found to be a hindering factor, for your business, during the entire course of the pandemic, and how did you overcome that hinderance?

The beginning of 2020 was tough for the ad tech industry. Some companies have been forced to reduce their costs, close offices significantly, or completely shut down their businesses. In these difficult circumstances, we made a smart move and shifted the focus to the struggles and needs of our clients like never before. We’ve transformed our pricing model, made it more flexible, and developed special offers and discounts to offer our clients the most loyal terms of cooperation. Realizing that our clients need technical support and ongoing advice on building business processes, we have developed a successful client interaction program. A detailed review of platform activities, training sessions, and optimization calls are the pillars that we’ve built for our new customer care. It is also worth noting that despite the minor (fear-induced) difficulties that the ad tech industry faced in early 2020, later on, the lockdown boosted ad sales as users began to spend more time online.

We use up-to-date and secure software to organize a flexible development process and prompt response to customer requests. As well we use an extended knowledge base for updating technical documentation about our platform. We apply video conference and chat software for our daily communication, e.g., Skype, Zoom, and Slack. Aside from this, to streamline our daily workflow, we use a CRM system and task tracking software that helps us to stick to deadlines and stay productive.

13What are the current trends in the business industry that you are most excited about?

Among the main ad tech trends that dominate post-covid world, and that we face in our work are:

CTV, audio, and dynamic ad creatives that define programmatic.

Short videos on social media engage users most.

Increasing role of omnichannel with DOOH and virtual helpers.

Pandemic stirs mobile ads and voice-activated advertising.

Cookieless advertising bringing focus to context and first-party data.

In-house programmatic and outsourced employees simplify workflow.

It's very exciting to be in the center of events in such an actively changing and huge industry as adtech.

14What resources would you recommend to someone who is searching to improve their business prospects and organizational success?

15Where do you see the evolution of the overall business industry in the next 5-10 years?

Most important detail - advertising/ad tech/digital ecosystem is actively moving towards privacy, security and data protection. This is the most evident trend that we can observe - starting from GDPR, CCPA, COPPA, and ending with Cookie crumble in Chrome, Safari or IDFA restriction in IOS. With this, a typical company in the ad tech layer will be focused on offering the right utility in the privacy-first era (measurement, targeting, infrastructure). All-in-all when the industry comes up with better solutions for measurement and attribution, in the new realities it will be very important for businesses to build a strong data strategy wrapped around channel-level key performance indicators, proper campaign reporting (viewability, reach, and click-through rate across segments), and revenue attribution reporting (the revenue obtained from ads and the ability to attribute it to user segments, content types, etc). This all becomes possible with independent ad tech platforms that will differentiate their services through better transparency, privacy, and data safety standards.

16Who inspired you in your life, and why?

Where the inspiration comes from: clients at our company and the opportunity to help them and by this fill the unique niche which is so far vacant. How we came up with the existing servicing model: at first we operated like the rest of ad tech companies and provided the clients with all the info and recommendations they needed, but we were not authorized to implement what we advised ourselves.

It was the client’s responsibility to fulfill our instructions and tips (as they were the primary owners of the platform they purchased from us). We’ve noticed that many companies did not have the human resources to do what we recommended. Some of them did not have enough expertise to implement complex things such as e.g partner integration, analytics the way we recommended. The others only started business in programmatic and didn’t have people who could have done it for them.

This inspired us to create a service that is differentiated with extended service that goes far beyond support and assisting the client on request. We created a proactive team - instead of pushing it all on the shoulders of customers, it actively reaches out and keeps a finger on the pulse of customer success. Further on, we’ve launched the outstaffing service that helps our clients to streamline daily routines and work as a part of the client's own in-house team.

17What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

The key to our success is two-sided, the first one is technology and the other is people. We believe that exactly these two components create the perfect combination that helps us to position ourselves correctly on the ad tech market. The other important component is our customers who provide us with valuable feedback and give us the pointer of where to move next. These three are the pillars of our business success.

Winning Entries

Making Ad Tech Business Easy With Extended Customer Support | 2021

Interview With Roman Vrublivskyi From SmartHub, United States

SmartHub White Label Ad Exchange is a programmatic, white-label RTB solution designed to facilitate ad tech market entry for companies that plan to set up their own branded marketplaces.
(read more at TITAN Business Awards)

Roman Vrublivskyi

Roman, along with SmartHub, recently introduced White Label Ad Exchange. It is a programmatic, white-label RTB solution that facilitates ad tech market entry for companies.