Interview with Heiko Hildebrandt, Target Circle

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Interview with Heiko Hildebrandt, Target Circle


This month we chat to Heiko Hildebrandt, Doctor of Economics and CEO of Target Circle, a Norwegian-based SaaS technology provider for the performance marketing industry specialising in white-label solutions for traffic consolidation, trading and clean-up.


Describe yourself in 3 words

Tenacious. Different. Reliable.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The diversity of my tasks and responsibilities, the intellectual challenges we face (particularly in R&D), and the dynamics of the markets we operate in.

‘Performance Exchange’ is a relatively new term within the performance marketing space. What exactly does it entail?

  1. Applying stock exchange trading principles to performance marketing.
  2. Developing the new standard for performance marketing white-label technology.
  3. Developing a global, open marketplace where supply of and demand for performance-based traffic meet.

What makes Target Circle different

Three things: Traffic consolidation, Marketplace access and Fraud protection.

Clients can consolidate all their desktop and mobile traffic sources for all their offers, countries and device combinations in one platform and under one framework agreement. We disclose the name, performance record and other profile information of all traffic sources on the platform and share them with all clients so that they can utilize them. And finally, our fraud checks are full embedded in the platform flagging suspicious traffic sources and transactions and allowing for automated rejections.

Describe the ideal Target Circle customer?

Innovative – Our clients are very open-minded and willing to try new approaches in an attempt to streamline and automate their performance marketing processes as much as possible.

Transparent – Our entire technology suite is built for transparency so that only clients whose aim is to eradicate fraud, join our platform.

Patient – Complex, ground-breaking products and features take time to develop and it sometimes takes several iterations to improve them.

Users are demanding simplicity from online systems, while the technologies are becoming more complex. How does one bridge that gap?

By continuously improving the onboarding process, platform documentation and support to help our clients using the platform in the most optimal way and getting the highest ROI; we constantly ask for and incorporate feedback and improvement ideas from our users in our platform development; we are almost obsessed with user experience and user interface design to make even the most complex products and features easy to understand and use.

What are the biggest changes/developments we are likely to see in the performance marketing space over the next 5 years?

  1. White-labelling – Most performance marketing networks will stop developing their own proprietary technology and replace it with white-label technology.
  2. Openness – So called “closed” or “hidden” performance marketing networks will continue to lose market share with improving fraud detection tools and increasing advertiser demands for transparency and return on ad spend.
  3. Automation – The majority of traffic selling and buying will be fully automatic in real time based on smart algorithms crawling through and interpreting enormous amounts of data.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing performance marketing networks today?

A transition from technology providers (= performance marketing networks) to managed services providers (= performance marketing agencies).

Constantly decreasing margins due to fierce competition, forces performance marketing networks to include products and services in their offering that advertisers see as value adding and are willing to pay a premium for.

Advertisers operate more and more globally expecting performance marketing networks to follow and provide high quality desktop and mobile traffic worldwide across all industries and traffic channels.

Three things experience has taught you?

  1. The collective beats the individual.
  2. The first 10 employees and clients determine the path and success of your business.
  3. The core of your business should be profitable before you widen your focus.

One place every first visitor to Norway should visit?

Bygdøy in Oslo, also known as the museum peninsula.

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