5 questions with Bob Dykes

Internet marketing services company NebuAd last week announced that it raised about $20 million in a Series B round from Menlo Ventures and return backer Sierra Ventures. So PE Week Editor-at-Large Dan Primack caught up with Bob Dykes, CEO of NebuAd and former CFO and executive of business operations for Juniper Networks. Their conversation was edited for clarity.

Q: NebuAd refers to itself as the “first consumer-centric behavioral targeting network for the online advertising industry.” There are a lot of behavioral online ad companies out there, so what exactly is NebuAd the first to do?A: Prior behavioral ad networks are all from the website, in that they drop cookies. They may have several thousand sites from which they drop cookies, but it’s still very website-oriented, and they offer a limited view of the user.

Our technology allows us to see all of the websites a user has browsed, so that we can more deeply understand a user’s consumer interests.

Q: Doesn’t that raise privacy and sensitivity concerns?A: We only look at consumer sites, not ones that are sensitive. So if you go to a sex site, we don’t track that. If you look up something for HIV positive, we don’t look at that. But if you are planning to travel to the South of France or you are researching to buy a new car, we do track that. It’s a deep, micro-targeted understanding of the user.

Q: After this Series B round, what is the company’s plans for future VC funding?A: We got exactly what we were looking for, and do not anticipate another round of funding. This should bring us to break even, and allow us to roll out our appliances to service providers and build up our ad sales force and procurement groups. We also will continue to perfect our behavioral optimization technology.

Q: Which is more difficult to hire, engineers or ad sales people?A: We want to hire high-quality people, so it’s difficult all around. I would not like to characterize one over the other.

Q. It seems that every other company in your line of business has a blog written by the CEO or head of marketing. Why don’t you?A: We market directly to service providers, websites and advertising agencies, so we’re not really looking to reach general consumers… Maybe someday we’ll move to that.