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October 28 2016

Cyrille Geffray of Smart AdServer is Smart

Why should you read this article?

Because understanding Smart AdServer from a business perspective is important.
Maya Lawrence

This article was written by Amaury de Rochegonde. It was originally published as a press review in French on October 12, 2016 in Stratégies Magazine.

Photo Credit: Damien Grenon for Stratégies

CEO Cyrille Geffray is responsible for ensuring the technological and international development of the smart advertising solutions company Smart AdServer. From a mobile start-up to a technology consulting firm, to a detour in fashion with his ex-wife, Cyrille Geffray has amassed quite a diverse professional resumé. He began his career in the early 2000s, but it was upon joining Smart AdServer in 2006 that he learned just how quickly digital companies grow. At that time, Smart AdServer, which offers innovative advertising solutions, was still part of Au Féminin. Within months of his arrival, Cyrille garnered 70 clients. In 2009, the company went international, and now, ten years later, Smart AdServer has offices in Germany, Spain, the US, the UK, Brazil, Mexico, and China. It’s gone from 20 to 170 employees and has a 23 million euro turnover.

Hiring the right people

The French company, which specializes in desktop and mobile display advertising, was acquired through a LMBO (Leveraged Management Buy-Out) via Cathay Capital funds in 2015. At the end of 2016, half of its turnover will come from programmatic sales. Its “full stack” solution, available for both for direct sales as well as programmatically, enables the company to offer a one-stop-shop for traditional and mobile formats in native advertising, Rich Media and RTB. Its latest programmatic buying method, Automated Guaranteed, aims to give publishers the option to market, within its platform, guaranteed inventory to connected buyers. Agencies will be able to view availability and pre-book inventories. “We give sites the tools they need to be paid,” Geffray  explains. “Our goal is to, through external growth and by riding the wave of success of programmatic and video, reach 200 million euros in revenue in 2020.”

With operations in nine countries, and nearly 20% EBITDA, the ad serving company has faced a host of challenges on the managerial level. For example, how does a French company with 100 employees transform itself into a global enterprise? To help answer this question, they’ve created an Executive Committee with members in both Paris and New York, and they’ve recruited tech specialist Corey Kronengold to serve as Chief Marketing Officer. In a hyper-competitive market, the company has the ability to employ the right people, just as Google, AppNexus, and AOL do. The former DRH of Criteo is in charge of recruiting ten people per month, 70% of which are engineers.

A mindset of a challenger

Smart AdServer is also committed to making itself better known among trading desks and publishers, hence the recruitment of nearly twenty people to manage demand sales and the technology related to it. It’s already outgrown its Parisian headquarters on Rue Chaussée d’Antin in the French “Silicon Sentier”, and is looking for a new locale for 2017. Its international expansion, which is expected to continue to Singapore, Dubai and possibly Japan, has been managed from the Paris office.

For CyrilleGeffray, an open mind and listening to his clients’ opinions is an asset, “Americans might not pay attention to important things.” For example, recognition of issues such as freedom of the press, taxation and employment might incite a publisher’s traffic manager to choose one platform over another.

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