Interview with Jay Sears on automation, programmatic and more!

Original version posted here on http://www.mediavillage.com

Jay Sears, Senior Vice President Marketplace Development of Rubicon Project discusses advertising automation with Marco Bertozzi, Global Chief Revenue Officer of Publicis’ Performics as part of a series of buyer conversations on the topic.

 

JAY SEARS: What do you read to keep up with politics, art and culture?

MARCO BERTOZZI: Almost all of my reading comes from a combination of Twitter and Sunday newspapers! What I follow on Twitter outside of the adtech and performance worlds represents my interests and is the fastest way for me to keep up. Sunday newspapers are my break from staring at screens and I take in some good old print for my news and views.

SEARS: What do you read to keep up with friends?

BERTOZZI: The most useful app to keep up with friends was Newsle, now owned by Linkedin. It sends you an email every time any of your friends are featured — especially useful for work friends. Outside of that Instagram and Facebook bring in baby pictures!

SEARS: What do you read to keep up with the advertising technology industry?

BERTOZZI: I read all the usual trade magazines, I watch TED talks on tech which is always fascinating, and of course Twitter again. You may be getting the idea by now that Twitter helps me navigate most things!

SEARS: What’s your favorite commercial of all time?

BERTOZZI: In past years I have said the Black Current Tango ad. But every time I see the ad from Nike with the park bench that has no seat, but on the back rest it says Just Do It I think, “Wow, that’s great!”

SEARS: With regards to advertising automation, what are the three biggest trends you expect to impact companies in 2016 and 2017?

BERTOZZI:

  1. The biggest area of opportunity is around data driven shifts away from IOs into direct deals using programmatic pipes (PMP), and that requires heavy use of a data strategy (data warehouse, DMP).  We know now what it takes to be successful with programmatic, and data is foundational along with the knowledge and algorithms for optimization, attribution and planning.
  2. Survival of the fittest in the ad tech space. They are coming under increasing competition and it’s hard to sustain at the rate they have seen. Many agencies and advertisers are trying to consolidate their tech.
  3. Automation of once called “offline” channels is going to boom in the next three years with TV at the forefront. Historically the broadcasters and platforms have been accused of being laggards but I see that changing and I believe we are going to see a hockey stick of activity in the addressable TV space. Whether it is Sky or Dish or NBC, everyone is now looking to play in automation and targetable linear and VOD ads.

SEARS: With regards to advertising automation, what are the three most overblown topics that you wish would just go away?

BERTOZZI:

  1. Complexity and how many people use it as an excuse for not learning new skills and terminology. It is a personal bug bear that so many people want to hide away from what is the biggest shift in our industry since TV. I would say though to be measured, there are still too many people focused on the “what” and “how” and not enough on the “why.” That is fair and we should fix that in ad tech land.
  2. The question, will all media be automated? This is a non-topic now; it is fundamentally clear that we are on our way to that end result. Every channel is moving in that direction and there is no way to stop it. We have to embrace change and maximize the sophistication with which we approach it.
  3. Ad-blocking debates. We will solve this as an industry and it will bring a far improved web and mobile experience. We need to stop talking about it and start doing something about it. We should never have a panel that does not have solutions and examples of solutions, not just more talk.

SEARS: Describe your company or division and then tell us the three most common issues with which you help clients with respect to advertising automation and programmatic trading.

BERTOZZI: Performics is a Publicis Media global agency brand while at the same time it is the performance arm of the other four networks, providing a best in class performance marketing offering to each of those agencies. We are focused on the relentless pursuit of results!

I believe that we are experiencing the same as many other companies, which is the issue of such a fast-paced market place as regards technology. We are simultaneously delivering best in class programmatic solutions while trying to make sure we keep up with the latest technology and building for a data-led future.

The three issues are:

  1. Education needs to be prioritized for every agency. Through the power of the Publicis Media practices from Data, Technology and Innovation as well as Research and Insights we have a very strong machine to help us with this but it is still a daily requirement.
  2. All media should be and will be able to be traded programmatically, however the reality is not always as good as the promise. There are still issues of delivery through the supply chain of premium publishers and tech, where IOs are not always delivered or delivered in full. Where technical issues arise there are often a number of parties to manage.
  3. Being able to work with and around the walled gardens of some of our largest media partners will come more and more front and center as advertisers invest more in data strategy and DMP activation. This new approach will ask more and more questions of the walled gardens and want them to open up a little so an advertiser can get a view of the whole ecosystem.

SEARS: Tell us about your company or division.

BERTOZZI:

SEARS: The majority of ad technology companies have struggled (relatively small, unprofitable or both). Of the poor performers, what are the commonalities between them that have contributed to this weakness?

BERTOZZI: The three biggest mistakes I see them make are that they are unable to differentiate from the competition and, connected to that, they don’t understand their competition. Without differentiation you have a spray and pray approach and hope something sticks, rather than knowing where to target. The second and related point is that they are not sure what they are; they come with a menu of options without going deep on any of them, almost hoping we will work it out for them. Finally I would say that not over-promising and making sure you deliver what you say you’re going to deliver is vital.

SEARS: A smaller handful of ad technology companies has achieved scale and performed better than the rest. What are the commonalities between them that have contributed to this relative strength?

BERTOZZI: The opposite of the above. One addition: people. People who are able to build strong relationships and develop trust very quickly will always win out in the end, when combined with the opposite of my list of mistakes.

SEARS: Do we live in a “tale of two cities” where Google and Facebook win almost everything, advertisers are dictated to and other media companies fight for the scraps?

BERTOZZI: To some extent that may be the case. I would say that some of the competition that publishers have always experienced is just consolidated, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t there before. In that consolidation the question is whether or not that then makes life harder or not for publishers, or just easier for buyers. The market is evolving, however, and there is a lot of spend moving away from very poor, non-transparent ad networks where fraud and lack of transparency have been an issue. The time has never been better for publishers to stake their claim to provide quality inventory and encourage advertisers to invest in them.

SEARS: Please answer the following statements yes or no.

BERTOZZI:

SEARS: If you owned a yacht, what would you name it?

BERTOZZI: Angelina! If I owned a yacht, it would likely be my second biggest pleasure in my life, so it makes sense to name it after my first.

SEARS: A young family member has come to you seeking career advice. They must choose one of the following careers: ad agency executive, ad tech executive, company marketing executive or ice cream shop owner on the French Riviera. Which career path do you recommend and why?

BERTOZZI: Company marketing. I say that because it’s the broadest and applies to all the others. If you become smart in marketing you can apply that to all the other jobs and improve them or grow them. Of course in the world of the chief marketing technologist I would encourage them to get smart on the tech side of the business while they’re at it!

SEARS: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

BERTOZZI: Impossible!

SEARS: Thanks, Marco!

An Englishman in NY (well Chicago)

After another two month stint in the US, I am flying home to take up my role in London. In 2014 I had the good fortune to work for six months in New York and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, this time it was Chicago in my new CRO role for Performics. I have found myself analysing the country more than I did in NY, I guess the second time around was more critical than the first and I seemed to soak up more of normal life this time.

A few things have struck me this time, small often, some big but just areas of difference between US and UK, work and otherwise.

  1. They love DOGS. Holy shit, they love them, every shape, size, colour. I thought the UK was a nation of animal lovers but its on another scale here, every apartment block has them pouring out in droves.
  2. US offices are so much quieter than UK. There are arguments pro and con but on balance the life that exists in UK offices outweighs the sometimes oppressive silence of US offices. I would be tearing down the cubicles as fast as I could.
  3. I am left dumbfounded by the level of waste of food and lack of recycling. Restaurant portions seem to me gluttonous to the point of not really understanding who eats it. It perhaps creates a sharing culture as people don’t order dishes each, but mainly I just see waste.
  4. How much more friendly and relaxed Chicago is to NY. A totally different experience, people are so friendly and helpful and makes for such a nice pace of life vs NY.
  5. You have to work here to get the scale. Europeans who moan about the US, need to understand more about the US before passing judgment. The numbers, the opportunities, are immense.
  6. Love – taxis taking cards as a matter of course, yet at the other end the card payment processes seem really behind with limited Chip and Pin, let alone contactless.
  7. Eating and drinking in the US is interesting. Service is great generally, some restaurants wont let you sit until your other dining partner arrives which frustrates me. The dropping of the ‘check’ on the table when you have barely finished is both irritating and fantastic, one pushing you out, on the other hand, you don’t have that frustrated process of catching waiter’s eye to get the check.
  8.  Stop spilling iced water all over the table. Please.
  9. I still find that there is too much hierarchy in US businesses, I would prefer to see much less focus on titles and seniority and more on great and accountable relationships with the teams.
  10. So kid friendly. playgrounds around every corner, children’s menus, museums etc, Chicago but also NY have been fantastic for kids and I love the place for that.

I hope to get the chance to come back here again, America is a great country and from a work perspective it is a must and would recommend to anyone. I have enjoyed a wonderful time here with the Performics team, a great team and look forward to what the future holds!

Thanks windy city, its been a blast!

 

My video interview with @Google ‘Think with innovators’ series

My interview with the Google series ‘Think with innovators’ looking back over my career and laying out some of the learnings. It brought back some great memories!

Original article here

For Marco, innovators often tend to be lone, disruptive voices, whose biggest challenge is persuading the majority that change is a good thing, and that the outcome of that change will be positive for both agency and clients alike. In his many years of advancing the digital agenda, he says there has been no bigger challenge than the introduction of Programmatic, starting in 2009. “If you look back, there were whole businesses that did not believe this was the future,” he remembers, “but at every organisation now there are big advocates for Programmatic who all have a common thread of trying to change how the business has always worked.” In driving that change, Marco recalls that there were no short-cuts, as he spent years “literally going door to door” in an effort to educate colleagues and clients about the power of the new technology.


Innovation is in your DNA. I think you can learn some of the skills that are required, but it goes back to ‘what motivates you?’ The motivation to innovate comes from within.

Marco Bertozzi, Global Chief Revenue Officer, Performics


“My definition of innovation in the context of a large media group is really this concept of the ‘intrepeneur’,” says Marco. “Really this means trying to drive change, trying to change what people have always been doing, trying to invent new things within the structure of a big organisation.” Having earned his stripes as an ‘intrApreneur’ at VivaKi and at Performics, Marco now takes time out to share his experiences with the next generation of innovators. “I do mentoring at university, I do talks at schools and there’s a few other things in the pipeline. And at the same time I like sitting down with some of the biggest digital companies in the world and talking about how we’re going to continue to evolve this new space.”

Looking forward, Marco can see new technologies already starting to change the landscape, even though the fundamental challenge for businesses remains unchanged. “First Programmatic came along, and with it all the different channels, and now everyone’s talking about virtual reality. It just never stops, so the challenge for agencies is how you keep on top of that change and really embrace it.”

Reflecting on his undiminished appetite for the next wave of innovation, Marco knows exactly where his enthusiasm springs from. “I think for me, what gets me out of bed in the morning has always been that ability to work with lots of other companies and people who are more future facing. My satisfaction comes from believing that there’s a right way forward that’s different to how we’ve been doing it before, and having the self belief to see it through.”

BertozziBytesize: Straight talk is the missing link.

I recently delivered a session at The Festival of Media, called ‘an insiders guide to programmatic’ the design of which was to have a straight forward and open discussion with a room full of advertisers on the topic. It was not meant to be educational in the sense of ‘whats a DSP’ but more a discussion on topics of transparency, operating models, the changing landscape and how the advertiser may need to think differently to how they have been to date.

It was a credit to the Festival organisers that we had nearly 40 advertisers in the room and no other adtech or agency people. Thank God because I was not kind to some of the other players in the ecosystem, although I believe fair. Since the event I have received some feedback that they enjoyed the discussion, at least some of them! The common theme throughout was that they enjoyed the open dialogue and straight talking. Anyone who reads this blog knows thats what I have always tried to do.

In fact I try and do that when I am face to face with clients as well, some make it easier to be straight talking than others. One unnamed advertiser started the meeting with ‘before we start, can I just tell you that I don’t believe a word that comes out of a trading desk!’ Well that sets a tone for sure, one I like because it basically says that the gloves are off and we can talk clearly and simply. It may not come as a surprise to know that I have had a few of those kind of meetings and on the whole I feel like the end result is often better. First of all you get to actually state your case rather than be in the shadows. Secondly it is an opportunity to pick apart the headlines and give the straight answers to straight questions and thats a good thing.

The gloves are off between the advertisers and the agencies right now with all the headlines of FBI and ‘prison time’ and I think that in the end this process that is being led in the US and supported heavily in the UK with the likes of ISBA and their new contracts will allow the right people to talk to the right people and hopefully ask some difficult questions on both sides. The net result being an opportunity for both sides to challenge the current situation.

But I still have not got to the point! As I look around offices all over the world and I see that more and more the work force is retreating behind emails and headphones I fear that the straight talk will also diminish. My first boss Tracey Stern always told me that if I had bad news, I had to ring the client and tell them myself. It taught me to have difficult discussions and hopefully made me think harder about what I was doing. Now everything is transmitted by email. Mistakes, demands, apologies are all carried along the pipes and not delivered through the dog and bone, an experience that is not easy but nevertheless worthy. I think we are all complicit in this, both the sender and receiver has come to prefer it that way and for me that is where the disconnect creeps in and starts to unravel relationships.

I appreciate the world has changed and we are all working in a different way but I firmly believe that if we did the following things, relationships would be better on both sides:

  1. Always call your client and talk to them about life and work
  2. If there is a problem or a mistake, deliver it in person or on the phone
  3. If there is good news, pick up the phone and tell them
  4. If you are unhappy then say so – on the phone
  5. If the client is unhappy then say so – on the phone

The rest can go on email! As in all things there are personalities that prefer some things over others, but I firmly believe that some of that is habit rather than preference. So yes it is over simplistic and we are all guilty but we need to do more talking and less emailing and encourage our teams to build relationships through dialogue as well as delivery.

 

 

 

 

Adblocking -please advertise responsibly

Ad-blocking, is now in its next chapter. The converted network in the form of Three is going to banish ads en masse. We have lived through a number of chapters in this story, we are reading fast because it is such a page-turner and on a panel a week or so ago I was asked a number of good questions.

The first was why had we taken so long to wake up to the issue when ad-blockers had been around for some time. The second was “what are we actually going to do about it?” and finally a question about what advertisers think. The questions raised some good points because right now the whole industry is standing around admiring the problem with little visible action.

Let’s start with the advertisers, why are they not up in arms on this topic? Well the answer is that it has not affected them, as far as they can see. They ask for media and they get media, often at a lower price than last year so everything is rosy. The mobile network Three’s partnership with the ad-blocker Shine might start a trend that means the only feasible answer is restricting inventory and increasing pricing. Advertisers will then find the cost of their digital ads goes up. When you see that six months after bringing in new rules on its exchange Appnexus has reduced traffic by 90 per cent, you start to see the potential impact if you clean up ad fraud and restrict eyeballs.

I believe we did not notice the problem until other businesses started to make money out of the problem. Not unlike the earliest protection racket that started up around the olive groves of Sicily, once it was clear that there was money to be paid the topic was widely distributed by the aforementioned racketeers, sorry ad-blocking companies. Since then, ad-blocking has seeped into the common consciousness appearing in articles, films and more. In fact as Caspar Schlickum of Xaxis said, we basically brought it upon ourselves by talking about it so much.

We are now admiring the problem from every angle like a fine work of art. Yet this is an industry issue like no other we have had before. This is an issue to end the industry and we need to create a collective approach to the problem. We have to do something on the scale of the alcohol industry. “Please drink responsibly” needs to change to “please advertise responsibly”. We need to get behind a body of people capable of creating change.

image: http://offlinehbpl.hbpl.co.uk/news/OMC/richedit/DrinkResponsibility.jpg

Advertising needs its own version of the ‘drink responsibly’ industry effort

The question is who is going to put their hand up? The Internet Advertising Bureau, IPA, and Advertising Association have to come together to start the ball rolling. Some of that should be official sounding work and some more basic. The easiest example is to all collectively agree to not build certain ads.

The IAB with its “lean” approach is starting with that, but we should all get behind it. There was a time in 2002/3 when pop-ups were banished to whence they came. They were not cool, the sole preserve of gambling and porn companies. In the last few years they have made a return in a big way, but disguised as something more sophisticated. We have to cut them out. None of this is pretty and we have to get on the front foot.

And as a parting remark, I would say it is not helpful that other parts of the business are rubbing their hands together on this topic. Whether it be people working in other media channels like TV who think that people actually like TV ads, when actually they have no choice really, give them an app to dodge TV ads and they will, or creative agencies blaming programmatic. We all have a part to play and it threatens all of us.

One thing we could all do is not allow ad-blocking companies into conferences as the IAB did in the US because the lights that beam on the stage, the food they happily eat in the break, the drinks they consume in the bar afterwards and everything in between is paid for by advertising. For that reason alone they should not be invited.
Read more at http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/ad-blocking-end-industry-why-no-one-stepping-change-that/1384789#7uGwk0Qmp1bklfyh.99