Welcome back to StumbleUpon Innovators, a weekly interview series with publishers, platforms, and digital media experts. Each week we’ll investigate strategies, new tools, and trends with some of the brightest minds in the business. Our aim is to provide you with actionable practices to improve your content choices, distribution, marketing, monetization, and more.
In case you missed last week’s interview with Scott Kritz of Liquor.com, it’s right here.
Q&A with Joseph Galarneau, Co-Founder & CEO of Mezzobit
Please introduce yourself and your company.
I’m Joe Galarneau, a longtime digital media guy (former COO and digital GM at Newsweek, CTO at New York Magazine). I’m now CEO at Mezzobit, which I launched to help publishers better control valuable data about their audiences.
What is Mezzobit all about?
Mezzobit is the classic case of founders suffering through a problem firsthand and starting a company to fix it. Our technology acts like a firewall for audience data, letting publishers control how third parties like ad-tech companies and social networks collect data on visitors and track them across the Internet. By knowing exactly what’s going on, publishers keep more audience value for themselves. Our platform also fixes other revenue problems caused by third-party tech, such as slow ad rendering that decreases viewability, as well as combating the rise of “non-human traffic.”
Who is your audience and how do you reach them? How do you find new audiences?
We’re a technology company, so we’re in business to help our publisher partners better understand, protect and make money from their audiences.
What’s your publishing and/or content marketing strategy?
While Mezzobit is not content-focused, I’ve dealt with thousands of publishing types through digital media strategy and product courses I’ve taught at NYU and Yale over the past decade, as well as dozens of seminars internationally. The most successful publishers have evolved past the monolithic idea of media brand to understand the continuum of relationships that publishers can have with audiences, from microcontent snacks widely scattered across social media to more in-depth relationships with core visitors. Throughout all of this, there’s the constant lodestar of “what can we do best” that brings consistency to content strategies.
What are your biggest challenges and how are you tackling them?
Mezzobit is trying to make the world a better place is by bringing transparency and control in a credible way. There’s no secret there’s a crisis of trust in the relationships between digital media and advertisers. Spiders and bots are casting dispersions on visitor quality. Brand marketers and their agencies are enforcing viewability standards because of doubts that ad messages are seen by consumers. And everyone’s collecting lots of data and dropping cookies, often without the knowledge of first parties or consumers.
What are your best tips and tricks for publishers and brands?
For legacy publishers, there historically has been an institutional wall separating editorial from the rest of the business, ostensibly to protect the integrity of content from commercial influences. To paraphrase Reagan, tear down that wall. Marketplaces are moving too fast to hinder internal collaboration with church/state issues. Get the best minds working on problems no matter where they sit. As with advertisers, consumer trust is still incredibly important for many brands, but as long as processes are transparent, smart people can quickly flag and solve potential credibility conflicts.
Rapid fire with Joseph Galarneau
What is your media diet?
As I started my career as a journalist, never lost the news bug, so hit all the usual suspects (NYT et al), as well as trade sources for media, advertising, data, and start-ups (DigiDay, Fred Wilson’s and Mark Suster’s blogs, etc.). On the lighter side, Letters of Note never ceases to amaze and delight.
Who do you admire?
Teachers of all stripes. Now that I have a three-year old son, I appreciate their level of energy and dedication even more so.
Who’s your dream partner?
We’re talking to several now that fit this archetype: a publisher with solid audience valuation models coupled with data-savvy leadership. Mezzobit’s ultimate goal is to dynamically tune a publisher’s data relationships for maximum profit, so working with an educated client speeds that process.
What’s one thing that your coworkers don’t know about you?
I’m a subway fanatic when I travel and have now ridden subways in 43 cities on four continents (Zurich will be #44 in a few weeks).
How can people reach you?
My email is email@example.com and I’m pretty prompt on Twitter as well (@jdgalarneau).
If you have suggestions for a future participants, please contact Andrew Levine at firstname.lastname@example.org.