Ad firm GumGum's model set to thrive even in downturn, CFO says


Online advertising company GumGum is well positioned to help companies leverage booming programmatic marketing opportunities even if the global economy struggles through a slowdown, the company's new CFO told CFO Dive in an interview.

Patrick Gildea joined GumGum this month after stints as CFO with several technology companies, including entertainment data company Gracenote, movie streaming service M-GO/Technicolor and furniture company Joybird. Gildea managed the sale of each to a larger company.


GumGum, which launched in 2008, uses technology designed to scan millions of photos and videos online and, based on how its algorithm processes clues in the visual media, identify matches between content and advertisers.

It claims a number of Fortune 100 companies as clients, who want the company to match them to appropriate content and protect them from association with negative content that can diminish their brand.

"There are other companies in the space that deliver brand safety, but they only do textual ads," said Gildea, a CPA who started his career decades ago as an accountant with Arthur Andersen. "When it comes to doing images, we're the only ones in the market with that. Since the bigger players in the space do text but not images, they're only delivering half a solution, in my mind."

Ben Plomion, GumGum's chief growth officer, said the company's visual scanning can prevent, say, an ad for an airline company appearing next to a news video of an airline crash. "We use our technology to find pictures of that airplane that crashed and make sure an airline is not going to be running next to it," Plomion told CFO Dive.

Plomion said the company's ability to protect the brand reputation of companies is a big growth area because of the cultural climate today. "A lot of brands are under pressure right now to take a stand publicly," he said. "And sometimes brands are very anxious having their ads running online and placed in the wrong places.