IQ News: Insider – Kauffman Clicks




Scott Kauffman, president and chief executive of ClickOver, may have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Just last week, as ClickOver, which manages online ads for publishers, announced a merger with Focalink Communications, an online ad manager for agencies, Kauffman emerged as head of the newly created entity. He’d been at ClickOver for just three months.
Although the 41-year-old executive was aware of the merger talks when he joined the company, he had little to do with the deal itself. Ironically, he would have been well-equipped to handle such negotiations–he previously served as vice president of online services at CompuServe, where he was on the team that sought a buyer for the H&R Block-owned company.
Shortly after giving a speech to the CompuServe staff intended to rally the troops as the search for suitors became constant technology gossip, Kauffman himself fled the coop.
“I was torn by the [buyout] responsibility and trying to also on a day-to-day basis run a large group of people,” he says. Of his decision to leave, he opines, “Consumer online services are a bloodbath.”
Now, Kauffman is charged with making something out of two merged entities that pale in name recognition when compared with CompuServe and some of his former jobs, which included marketing posts at Entertainment Weekly, Lever Brothers and Benton & Bowles. His introduction to the online universe came after the EW launch, when he became vice president of business development at Time Warner Interactive. Now, he says, he’s a technology addict.
It was ClickOver’s backing by prominent Silicon Valley investment bankers Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers that clinched his decision to move from consumer media to the sometimes arcane world of online ad management.
“There’s a lot of opportunity in infrastructure development right now,” Kauffman says. The real potential of this as-yet-unnamed new company, he thinks, is to establish a standard that will make defunct the old John Wanamaker saying, “I know half of my advertising works; I just don’t know which half.”
Kauffman figures that if he can convince both buyers and sellers to use ad-tracking software, his company will have a lock on the market. Another bonus, he points out, is that compatible systems will make it possible to provide better accountability to advertisers.
“At the end of the day, the marketer has to say, ‘It works,'” he says.