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Madhive CRO Jon Kaplan on connected TV ad growth

Jan 5, 2024
an illustration of Madhive CRO Jon Caplan surrounded by colorful bars resembling a TV test screen

Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios; Photo: Courtesy of Madhive

Ad tech startup Madhive has been expanding its 200-person team and its customer base as it operates in a "privileged position" of profitability, CRO Jon Kaplan tells Axios.

Why it matters: The startup operates within the growing sector of connected TV advertising, which is expected to grow 9.5% on a compound annual basis to $45.8 billion in 2028, according to ad agency GroupM.

Catch up quick: Kaplan joined Madhive in May, just ahead of it raising $300 million from Goldman Sachs. Previously, he served as chief revenue officer of crypto company FalconX, spent six years at Pinterest (including its 2019 IPO), and 12 years at Google.

This interview was edited for clarity, style and length.

What drew you to Madhive?

  • "I always look for growth industries. ... For the first time in history, viewership of traditional linear television, including cable, is below 50% ... and it's pretty clear to me that over the next three years, [streaming is] going to be the majority."
  • "I love the anchor that [Madhive has with] linear television. ... Part of where we're going in the future is why shouldn't every media company have a CTV reach extension strategy?"

There's so much attention on CTV. What's unique about Madhive?

  • "This may sound trivial, but [Madhive] was built for television. Seven years ago, we built this in partnership with Tegna. ... A lot of our competitors, including the biggest one, started with display, moved into online video and now are getting into CTV."
  • "From our very beginning, we had to operate with a lot of local fidelity, meaning we had to be able to target audiences ... with that level of precision ... that television advertisers expect. Other competitors have not even tried to get into the local space because it's just a lot of work."
  • "We bring all this unique demand. There's so few companies focused on small- and medium-sized businesses. We can go to a publisher and say our overlap in demand that we bring to your platform is probably 5%."

What's your biggest challenge this year?

  • "The question is where can we expand and how are we building the features and products required to expand? The next concentric circle is other local sales organizations: local newspapers, local radio, local out-of-home."
  • "When we get into digital publishers, retail media networks, performance advertisers, we need to share the benefit on why they should be considering reach extension. ... One of our challenges is to make sure the way advertisers are judging success on that platform is consistent with how we're judging success on CTV."

Are you raising?

  • "We've shared publicly that we're profitable, so that's a very advantageous place to be right now. We've never needed the money because we're generating cash. So we're in a really great place. ... What this deal does give us access to is Goldman's expertise. If it makes sense to make strategic acquisitions in areas that fill out our product map or acqui-hires, Goldman's a great partner to bounce that off of."

Do you expect to IPO?

  • "It's a possibility. It's definitely nothing we have on the radar right now. We have to execute on all of those additional segments so that we build a more diversified business that serves more types of customers."
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