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By Lane R. Ellis
Lead Editor, SearchEngineWorld
Video interview by Brett Tabke
Posted July 3, 2007
Joe Casale, president and CEO of one of the world's largest online media networks, Toronto-based Casale Media, has been involved with computers since the late 1970s. His company has over a decade of experience in online marketing; and is a part of the Casale group of companies, which went into business over 30 years ago. Casale Media sells a popular advertising delivery service called OPTIMAX. Casale recently spoke with Brett Tabke, founder and CEO of the popular WebmasterWorld search engine optimization and webmaster forums, and shared his thoughts on the current state of online media.
What Does Casale Media Do?
Casale Media sells interactive marketing, online media, advertising delivery management, and online advertising campaign optimization services, and in just over a year after launching became one of the largest online media networks in the world. The company collaborates with advertisers, advertising agencies and publishers in an effort to "break new ground in the online media technology space," according to their Web site. The company's media network - MediaNet - reaches over 66 percent of the U.S. online population, according to March, 2007 figures by comScore's Media Metrix, and reaches over 170 million people worldwide monthly. The company claims to serve an impressive 30 billion ads monthly to people in 200 countries.
Casale's MediaNet consists of over 7,000 news, editorial and entertainment Web sites in 200 categories of content, which the company calls "interest channels." MediaNet offers highly optimized advertising placement and highly-specific audience targeting towards a "wide variety of attractive demographic groups, largely consumers between the ages of 18 and 54,". The Web sites in the company's MediaNet network have passed an editorial and technical screening process, that reviews their content, the scope of their reach, and the quality of the Web site's audience. The company notes that it frequently reviews and re-evaluates the Web sites in its network.
The company, which also has offices in New York, Los Angeles and Detroit, calls their OPTIMAX platform a the industry's first "second-by-second" advertising campaign. Online audiences can be targeting using any combination of many criteria, including the following information:
In 2004 the company became an associate member of the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI), a group focusing on the privacy rights of Web users, and has worked with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in order to develop stronger privacy principals.
A Primer on Joe Casale
After attending the University of Toronto, Casale began work with data communications systems in 1974, and in 1978 began working with microcomputer networks. With Internet roots dating to 1979, Casale was also an early adopter of the Web, beginning Web site development in 1992 and Web server work in 1993. In 1994 he first delved into search engine optimization (SEO), and in 1997 became one of the first to develop Internet technology for serving Web advertisements. In November of 2003 he launched Casale Media, the world's first real-time online network delivering advertisements.
Casale Media's Joe Casale on the State of Online Media
Casale, who has spoken at many industry conferences over the years, spoke with Brett Tabke at last week's TRAFFIC conference in New York City. Casale began by telling Tabke, "The domain business, obviously, it's growing," and that the industry is starting to look at domain names as real properties. He noted, however, "There are some missing elements. It's kind of the difference between a great idea and a real product, or a great idea and a business model," and added, "There is a lot of this combination of people that have a [domain] name, and all of a sudden it's all over - it's finished, they're done," because of a lack of proper business planning.
The Importance of Industry Expertise and Historical Knowledge
Casale then spoke about the importance of having specific knowledge about any particular Web endeavor, "There's definitely a lot of value there, but the value exists [only] if it gets put together properly. To put it together properly, yes, you have to have a name, but then you have to have someone who, basically has subject matter expertise on whatever that name is. It's very, very important," and continued, "If you're going to develop something online, i.e. a Web-based version of something that exists in real life - you still have to follow some business sense. You've got to understand what you're doing, so you have to have subject matter expertise. There's no replacement for that." Casale also stressed the importance of knowing the history of any Web venture a person or company plans to become involved in. "You have to know where whatever this [subject] is first started - you have to know the historical aspects of it. You have to understand every aspect of it. If you don't, you're probably going to fail in getting off the ground," said Casale. He also spoke about how the people who have specific expertise are often lacking in business skills. "People who are experts in a certain subject are not necessarily great business people, so the other component that people forget about is business aptitude. You have to really factor in the good idea of the name, the expertise in that area, a good amount of business sense, and then a financial component," Casale said, and added, "I think a lot of times today people have a great idea and they are going after the financial component, and people won't finance it - they run away. I think we don't want these folks to run away. We want them to see this for what it is, and this often is the beginning of something very, very big. Right now people will run - they won't jump in, unless things are presented properly."
Tabke also asked Casale about his early days in the online advertising industry. "Ad delivery is really something that we have been factoring into our repertoire as early as the mid-1990s," said Casale, who also noted, "We couldn't do anything with it at that time. We couldn't afford to do it back then."
Casale Media Targets Online Ad Veterans
When Tabke asked who Casale Media's major customers are these days, Casale said, "I would define our customer base as primarily any person or company who has a high degree of online advertising expertise ; they already have to have that expertise. So it doesn't matter if it's 'mom and pop' or whether it's Fortune 500. If you're a Fortune 500 and you haven't done advertising online, we're not going to help you - that's not what we're here for. If you are an expert at online [advertising], and have been doing it for five or ten years, we're going to help you do it better." The fact that his company is selective in choosing its clients was reinforced when Casale added, "We're very, very selective in terms of the advertisers we take on." According to the company's Web site, before a publisher is admitted to their network, they must "pass a demanding editorial and technical screening procedure that, among other things, thoroughly evaluates the quality of their content, the size of their reach, and the caliber of their audience," and must also undergo frequent re-evaluation, "to ensure ongoing compliance with acceptance criteria."
Casale sees the industry as doing well, and told Tabke, "e-anything is still the most cost effective way of selling anything today. If you're a brick-and-mortar shop, you'd better get an online presence ; that's the way to go." Casale told Tabke that he doesn't believe it's too late for companies to enter the online advertising market, and offered the following message to those who haven't yet done so: "Anybody who is even thinking about doing anything in the e-space: it's not too late. It's never too late. We actually haven't seen the beginning of it yet."
Future Plans for Casale Media
Casale also hinted at new services his company may have in the works. "There are all kinds of things that are ready to roll out," but suggested that video might not be among his company's new services. "Certainly rich media and video are projects that have been ready for some time. Because of what we are and who we are, and how we're doing things, we do things that have a good business sense to them. Video right now is simply too far down the ladder," Casale said.
Casale presents a straightforward yet measured attitude toward online advertising, summed up well when he told Tabke, "Most people doing online right now, they're after maximum value for every dollar spent. Anybody who wants to sell a product or service just can't beat the online model for advertising efficiency." Joe Casale has seen many changes since he first became involved with computer systems 30 years ago, and with both impressive growth and well-established business acumen, his company will likely see many more exciting changes over the next few years.
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