Spotlight on Austin: Click Forensics' Steve O'Brien

Summary:Click Forensics is the center of part four of my Spotlight on Austin series, which highlights creative Austin-based companies who are participating in South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi). The company was launched in early 2006 to fight click fraud in online (CPC) advertising campaigns.

Click Forensics is the center of part four of my Spotlight on Austin series, which highlights creative Austin-based companies who are participating in South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi). The company was launched in early 2006 to fight click fraud in online (CPC) advertising campaigns. Click Forensics scores, audits and aims to improve traffic quality for the online advertising community.

I spoke with Steve O'Brien, vice president of marketing for the company about how Click Forensics is helping companies get better traction from their online advertising -- and about how he thinks Austin innovation needs a jump start.

Q. [Jennifer] What is the main business objective? What are you selling?

A. [Steve] We serve online advertisers, agencies, ad networks, and publishers. Our main business objective is to provide our customers with actionable information that they can use to improve the results of their online advertising. Advertisers should pay less but generate higher conversions. Ad networks can filter out poor traffic and better monetize the quality traffic. We basically audit and help manage performance-based online advertising.

Q. What are the top three problems that you are solving for your clients / customers?

1. Eliminating click fraud and invalid traffic from all campaigns.

2. Identifying opportunities for increased conversions and ROI

3. Helping ad networks block/filter/route traffic for better monetization

Q. What types of customers do you have (industries, size, etc., whichever best describes it)?

A. Large online advertisers who spend more than $50k per month on CPC advertising. And large ad networks and web publishers.

Q. Who are some of your customers?

A. Yahoo!, Progressive, Zappos, Vegas.com, Turn, Broadspring, NamiMedia, InfoSpace, CreditCards.com, NexTag.

Q. Tell me your perspective on the innovation coming out of Austin.

A. There's lots of innovation in Austin, in music. As far as technology, people in Austin like to think of it as a Silicon Valley-like atmosphere. I worked in Silicon Valley for 15 years and I don't see any similarity. I don't see the same kind of entrepreneurship or innovation coming out of Austin. Honestly, I think it's a pretty stagnant. Look at the leading brand-name companies: Dell, AMD, IBM, Motorola. Where are the entrepreneurs supposed to come from? Seems like the innovation in Austin died about 5-7 years ago. Hopefully I'll see some amazing new companies at SXSWi and be totally blown away.

Q. Name one other Austin-based company that you feel has it dialed in and tell me why.

A. Bazaar Voice is the obvious choice. Great idea, great product, great management. They automate user reviews and ratings. Totally relevant to current trends (social media), but not trendy, a real ROI story.

But since everyone else will say that, I'll go with LibreDigital. They're enabling digital content delivery for previously physical-bound industries (newspapers, books). They went out and hired a new, young, aggressive CEO named Russ Reeder and I think they'll do great in the coming years.

Topics: Emerging Tech, CXO

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