Leading up to Pontiac Intelligence
Prior to starting Pontiac Intelligence, Programmatic Mechanics had a long-standing success record as a managed-service media-buying business. As the business grew, the founder and early salespeople discovered many agencies looking for help to procure banner, video, and audio ad space. In these early stages, Programmatic Mechanics serviced a wide variety of clients, many of whom had smaller budgets and numerous retail locations.
As opposed to turning down small campaigns for regional brick and mortar businesses, the Programmatic Mechanics team challenged CTO Erik Thorson to use technology to build a solution that could service these clients. As a result, the Pontiac Intelligence project was initiated by the engineering team at Programmatic Mechanics.
With a background in building enterprise technology applications, Erik and the team began to build a tool that utilized the AppNexus (now Xandr) Programmable Bidder to optimize thousands of smaller campaigns without human intervention. After developing a proof of concept and demonstrating how thousands of small campaigns could drive new retail customers, the result was a Minimally Viable Product (MVP).
Pontiac Intelligence was officially born in 2016, when co-founders Erik and Keith recognized the potential for growth as a product specialized in small business advertising. The team invested a million dollars and worked on building a User Interface (UI/UX) to enable advertisers of all experience levels to leverage this new algorithm built for local and regional companies. The team also developed an API (application process interface) into the original product to allow these companies to build on top of the Pontiac technology and capture long tail growth over time.
In June 2018, the team took the product to market in a Beta Version allowing anyone to sign up with no minimum spend commitment. This was a first for programmatic technology, and this low barrier to entry remains a pillar of the company’s standards today.
Developing the Technology
The company realized early on that building a white-label version of the platform was key to growth. The Pontiac team built out several versions of the platform technology to create iterations which catered to different experience levels and business models as the use cases were seen on the platform. Recognizing the power of allowing agencies and organizations to personalize the user-interface and further build upon its capabilities, the while-label offerings emerged. The white label offerings were formally released in 2019, including a unique sign-up process and dashboard.
After welcoming businesses of all industries and sizes to the platform in 2018, the product continued to grow and evolve. There was a clear need to build differentiation and continue investing in new capabilities. The teams first major integration was with OnSpot Data to provide foot traffic attribution in the platform. In November of 2020, this native integration was released, seamlessly allowing Pontiac advertisers to measure Foot Traffic visits for In-App campaigns. This allowed businesses to define any number of physical locations and measure how many individuals saw an ad, then visited that store. While other services offered access to this information at a large scale (100+ locations), very few provided this capability on a local level. In Jan of 2021, Pontiac expanded this integration to include campaigns running on CTV and Web inventory. Using the device graph powered by OnSpot Data, companies can now analyze the number of in-store visits driven by any type of advertisement on Pontiac.