Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Biggest Deal: industry leaders on their largest deal and why it was so significant

NDA is launching a new series called “My Biggest Deal” talking to commercial leads about the biggest deal in their career to date. Not necessarily in monetary terms but one having a seismic impact on them and their career. We kick off with Matt Barash, Senior Vice President Americas, Global Publishing at Index Exchange.

What would you categorise as your biggest deal so far?

Having worked in the space for 25 years, it’s tough to identify one standout deal that I am most proud of.  After all, I’ve sold a Super Bowl ad and the back cover of the September issue of Vogue.

But the biggest deal I’ve been a part of over the past 25 years of working in advertising and technology happens to be one of the most ironic in digital history. 

I had been hired at News Corp in 2008 to help launch the now-defunct Fox Audience Network, a hedge play built to leverage the data assets that Myspace users poured into their profiles at that time, ultimately reaching audiences not just onsite for more relevant ads, but also on third-party properties where we had overlap. 

That overlap happened to include an up-and-coming social network called Facebook that had a banner ad running across the top of the screen. 

At that time, Facebook viewed the display unit as a commoditised opportunity that was outsourced to Microsoft to monetise, who’d fill a sliver of the ads with their own demand and farm the rest out to partners who could take on massive tonnage.

Why was the deal so significant to you?

Because Myspace was the biggest site in the world at the time, we would easily transact on billions of impressions daily. 

It remained a closely guarded secret that Fox sat behind Microsoft and Facebook and a story that I love to tell. 

It was the earliest days of programmatic.  Three of the companies most responsible for the giant industry we are in today, triangulating on one of the most unexpected partnerships that no one ever spoke about. 

The CPMs may not have been the richest, but the learnings that served as the underpinning for reaching audiences at scale were amazing and set the stage for so much to come.