Who is the face behind EnvisionX? Read a day in the life of Zheng Zhang, CEO & Co-Founder at EnvisionX and gain insight about our solution, our recent news and what we're up to from the man himself in "Finding the Key to Unlock Easy Advertising: The CEO's Perspective".
The shrill of my alarm wakes me up at precisely 7:10am but it’s strange as sometimes I tend to be one of those people that can anticipate when my alarm is about to ring. I’ve often wondered why that is. It’s usually a fitful sleep though as gone are the days back in 2014 when I used to go to sleep at 3am having started EnvisionX up as a new advertising technology business back then!
My morning routine usually consists of cleaning out the guinea pig’s cage for my daughter Stella. I would ask her to do it but she’s only three years old. The things we do for our kids. A recent family trip to the farm prompted the purchase of Cream and Chocolate (that’s the guinea pig’s name) to help teach her care and responsibility. She’s really begun to discover her own identity and sense of self recently. I often joke how she’s EnvisionX’s youngest employee but even so she would be a huge distraction in the office. I don’t think anyone would get any work done. Stella was actually born the same year EnvisionX launched as a business so you can certainly imagine how hectic life was!
I often look back at how far the company has come. Originally EnvisionX was launched solely as a versatile programmatic marketplace today known as AdTrades to address the need for a next generation marketplace which connects buyers and sellers of global advertising. It gives buyers access to multiple supply-side platforms (SSPs) and their verified advertising inventory or media - easily.
Since, we’ve evolved into a digital ecosystem which we are continually investing in. It was exciting to launch AdCasts too, a "ready-to-go” robust SaaS platform that makes it easy for advertisers to get programmatically set-up without having to spend years and resources building a demand-side platform (DSP) themselves as we’ve done that for them. I think there’s a lot of power in self-serve technology and our aim was to always make advertising easy for all parties and own that responsibility.
As soon as I’m in the office I’m on a Skype call to our Chief Technology Officer and my Co-Founder Vlad who is based in our Kiev office. We met back in our StrikeAd days when I was a sales engineer there in 2012 before being promoted to director of product and sales, and he instantly struck me as an insanely smart and funny guy - sometimes too funny for his own good, as his intelligent jokes can sometimes fall on deaf ears! He is a great asset to the team though and we talk about family but mainly catch up on a high priority work items.
Our agenda can consist of anything from our recent development of dynamic Queries-Per-Second (QPD) toggling which reduces the server cost for buyers so they can see their “lost ROI” being brought back (an unfortunate repercussion from the industry’s introduction of header bidding) - to eliminating non-transparent rebrokered traffic. This was where after a detailed investigation into duplicated inventory, we took the decision to shut down multiple SSPs since our findings pinpointed rebrokered traffic (a trend being sold since early 2016 in the industry) as the root cause of the issue with some small or new SSPs claiming to have unique and direct publishers to help us monetise.
There’s a huge sense of satisfaction from problem solving and making key decisions when owning your own business because after just two months of trading we found their claims were not the case and these SSPs were only monetising an established SSP’s inventory with their own hidden margin incorporated - and that’s not the way we do business here at EnvisionX. We pride ourselves on our integrity and the care of our buyers who deserve a healthier purchasing experience and buyer protection.
On the protection side itself we discuss the integration of our new VIP partner to our proprietary technology to detect and remove fraudulent activity for DSPs at no extra cost to them. Fraud is a huge challenge in the programmatic industry and we’ve taken it upon ourselves to be at the forefront of fighting this, particularly since we work with both buyers and sellers, we don’t believe advert performance should be impacted and that buyer’s money should be wasted in any way - or any publishers reputations or sites devalued due to fraud.
The morning passes in a complete whirlwind of emails and calls before it’s lunch (or should I say beers) with a new SSP client who has some great verified ad inventory that make a great addition to the AdTrades marketplace for buyers. I confess I used to be a big junk food eater but am a lot more health conscious these days but a beer with a client usually results in a burger to accompany it!
Lunch is a great discussion. What I generally find so exciting about programmatic is the sheer numbers - how billions of impressions are generated across media formats every day through technology that makes intelligent decisions in almost zero seconds so that advertisers can find the right audience at the right time and publishers can fill their inventory with the right adverts. That’s an incredible thing to comprehend. The power really is in technology as it’s constantly evolving and EnvisionX is part of that advancement with our ethos and capabilities.
The afternoon passes in a complete blur (which has nothing to do with the beers!) and there’s a meeting with our website developers and our director of marketing. We recently launched our new website and also issued a press release around our launch of BitCasts - being the first to pioneer programmatically enabled blockchain technology the way that we do. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt by starting my own business it’s that marketing works! When you see the results first-hand, you find that there’s endless opportunities and so many different ways to meet your goals it’s even more crucial to be strategic.
When people ask me what it was like to start up my own business, I tell them it is no doubt a challenge but the achievements make it worthwhile. I was just like any other graduate, wanting a job in banking or a similar industry to earn a lot of money. I didn’t originally set out to work in the advertising industry but I always knew from a very young age that I wanted to start up my own business and my background in information science, engineering and management helped.
A real turning point I’m proud of is how we became profitable in just a year after our product launch and I am very thankful to everyone on my team who is part of this great journey. I am thankful even more for their good spirits and sense of humour which I think is important in any business culture.
The office closes at 5pm (but that doesn’t mean my emails are). Most evenings are spent entertaining my daughter and also running errands with my missus before a quick catch up on any other work activity then off for a nightcap before it starts all over again. Every work day is different though and it certainly keeps me on my toes!
In the ad tech industry there certainly seems to be a lot of events worth going to and I am constantly checking my diary. I’m looking forward to spending time in Cologne again in September to attend dmexco for the second year in a row. So if anyone is about, give me a shout!