MDC Partners has hired Neeraj Kochhar to helm its fledgling digital media trading desk, which is known as Varick Media Management.
Kochhar will serve as president of the 10-person unit, which executes audience-based media campaigns through online ad exchanges. He replaces Darren Herman, founder of VMM, who in January shifted to a role as chief digital media officer for MDC shop Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners.
Kochhar was the right choice as a replacement, Herman said, because his background includes time on both the ad technology and agency sides. He began his career at ad tech company DoubleClick, now owned by Google. He went on to serve as director of search at Starcom MediaVest, where he launched SMG Search in New York. For the past two years, he’s been director of operations for GroupM Interaction,
“We love that he started on the product side and understands how to work with agencies,” Herman said.
VMM does media buying on behalf of MDC shops like KBSP’s The Media Kitchen, and also works directly with brands and even other agencies, Herman said.
MDC was an early player in the new area of agency trading desks with the launch of VMM two years ago. In the meantime, larger holding company rivals have begun their own operations.
Interpublic Group has Cadreon; WPP has B3; Omnicom has an unnamed trading unit; and Havas has AdNetik. All are dedicated to treating online media buying more like the stock market, bidding on individual ad impressions based on their respective audiences. The trading desks hook into exchanges like DoubleClick and inventory aggregators such as The Rubicon Project and PubMatic.
Kochhar said the area, while quite small now, is poised to become a major component of digital media buying.
“We see an opportunity that’s tremendous,” he said. “It needs time. It’s in its infancy.”