- Advertisers are going to continue to take more ownership of their programmatic work in some way, hopefully finding a happy balance with agencies, combining best of both worlds
- Quality media will see a resurgence – it will at least be given air to breathe. Quality sites will be seen for what they are, brand safe with quality audiences
- Verification will be standard for Facebook and Google – at last advertisers will be able to see what their viewability scores are on puking rainbows
- Standards are about to shoot up. At Spotify we sell all video with Moat HAVOC standards – Human, Audio, Video, on complete. Our ads deliver 100% SOV, 95+% viewability. See these as becoming standard.
- I really did not know where anyone’s offices were and Christ you do a lot of travelling around. Google saves hundreds of hours by getting everyone to come to them.
- You get cancelled a lot. No biggie, shit happens, but you get cancelled a lot
- What I assumed would be an awesome event to attend is actually just competing with loads of awesome events to attend
- People cancel late – main thing is to cancel, even that day, but not so late you can’t find a home for the ticket, even if I bring my mum
- Learning all about restaurants in a 5min circumference from each agency
- I have competed with many, annoyed some, but overall everyone has been hugely welcoming of my new role.
- Agencies are working their socks off on pitches. Every.Single.Day.
- There is some cool shit going on in agencies, fascinating to see and hear it. One even came to tell us about it.
- I am really enjoying getting to work with all the people I used to work with but are now scattered across the industry – chance to see everyone again
- Agency chat involves a lot about offices. A lot. More even than Google and Facebook talk about theirs.
- People talk about Google and Facebook a lot.
- There are so many people I did not know but glad I am getting to know.
I have not self combusted.
I could have waited a month, six months, a year to write this but the biggest impact of jumping in cold water comes immediately, not after a few minutes, so I thought I would try to sum up my feelings about the change from agency to sales two weeks in.
This is not a blog about better or worse, it’s about difference. I am old enough and wise enough now to know that everyone goes to work every day and takes what they need out of work, you can only hope that you find a role that fulfils you, we spend a lot of time at work and being happy there, whatever the role is important. What I will be finding out I guess is whether I should have been doing sales all along, as many have told me, or whether I had it right first time. I feel like timing and choice of company will also impact that decision and I will come back to that shortly.
1.Clarity of focus
So 20,000 minutes later, the first thing that really strikes me is the clarity of focus. I used to describe that as ‘does it not feel repetitive talking about only one thing?’ But now I am in it, there is something liberating about having a clear focus on what your role in life is, it helps being in a brand as strong as Spotify admittedly, but nevertheless. Agencies have a lot of ground to cover and they have to be experts in many things which is hard and they do a great job of it. When I think of a planning director in an agency, they have to be strategic, understand everything from content to programmatic, keep the client service ticking over and that is not easy. That range of services and opportunities needs to be communicated to clients and so meetings have to cover so much and sometimes without the time to really go deep. When I hear people say ‘I can never get hold of someone’ I suspect it is because they have shifted their time to their clients and not meeting everyone and their dog from the outside. What appears to be a negative, is likely a positive.
On the media owner side, dark side, partner or publisher side you are there for one reason. Everyone knows you are there to talk about your brand and your proposition, the challenge for us is that we have to do a good job of that, since that is all you have to do. As an agency executive I would expect sales people to know their product inside out, ideally know what’s happening in my business and with my clients and deliver a clear and persuasive argument as to why I should spend money with you. The clarity of that purpose is quite liberating. I was in a meeting with a large global client and for me the first thing was that the relationship of our two brands was a no brainer – our audiences complimented each other perfectly. That is something as a publisher, if you have that you should be confident of it, how you then connect the two brands is just a collaboration using all the assets we have available to a brand.
2. Pace of work generates energy
I expected the pace to be different for sure, agency life runs on a different, longer term timetable, different objectives and I expected to find that on the sales side, but there is a stark difference. Of course things are shorter term, but pleasingly mixed with longer term strategies running in parallel. On top of the pace of things though comes the energy which is generated – the communication is fast and frequent, the team support each other and there is a great energy, again connected with clarity of purpose. I think that is something that 20K minutes in, I am enjoying the most. The team has great energy and I love seeing them getting behind each other, both in country and across countries.
The time in CES which I was lucky enough to enjoy with some of my European band members and some of the US as well was a joy in terms of spending time with people who are all excited and pulling for each other. The Spotify space in Vegas was real quality and I felt proud to be part of the company and especially when combined with the great people I met who all welcomed me in. I am going to spend the next week with them in NY as well, which I am thoroughly looking forward to.
Yes. Numbers are everywhere, this is a company built on understanding our business regardless of your level, sounds obvious? Well I think sales people who move to agencies may be surprised how relatively cosseted the equivalent levels in agency are from the business metrics behind what they do. At a certain level of course there is more exposure but there is so much to make sure you are on top of in a shorter term revenue business to make sure that targets are met than you would find in agency. At a large Google conference that I go to every year they split it into buy and sell side. This year it fell right on the change in my role and so I asked if I could swap and join the sales side tracks even though I was invited as buyside. It was interesting to me that on the buyside everything focused on what could we target, how could we use the data more, how can we join up channels etc. On the buyside it was far more commercial. How do we drive revenue for our valuable and scarce quality audience?
So you want to join the dark side? Well I am afraid I think it will depend on who and when you join. I wrote down the kind of company I wanted to join, and Spotify came top and I was lucky enough to get in the door. I feel comfortable in this environment because I can be passionate about a brand that is in the hand of the most sort after audiences for 2+hrs a day. I feel passionate about a brand that people love and that makes my job so much easier. The clarity of purpose suits me, the brand suits me, and the team is great so it works, albeit 20K minutes in! Agencies provide a powerful view of the landscape, you get to see everything, that variety is intoxicating so if you move to media owner side I would suggest go somewhere you care about and has a great offering, that more than makes up for the slightly more focused narrative. That said, I have enjoyed meeting some of the agency contacts I have been mates with for 20 years, that gives a whole new perspective on things. I look forward to working with all those agency friends, I just happen to be sitting on the other side of the desk.
DONT START…I added quotation marks around digital because I know that Tess Alps would be all over it in a second, but I had to describe it as something and there lies the issue for many. Old ways of describing a world moving at a 1000mph are not sitting comfortably at the moment. In the last week or so I have been witnessing the never ending battle of TV vs Digital. The first was during IAB Engage and the second was the Video Ad News conference. Mainly played out on Twitter, noone wins, it normally involves bright people and Nigel Walley and I always wonder what it would be like to have all these people in a room together, working together.
At the heart of the issues lies the definition of what constitutes digital, TV, mobile and how should we talk about them and report them. Those who follow Twitter feeds on the topic will see it is something that appears to have little end in sight. Now I know we are all eating from the same trough, advertiser money, but surely we can work more effectively together and create some strategies that bring all sides together to recognise the benefits of both.
It strikes me that we have a synergistic relationship going on where one supports the other. TV has a history of making brands famous and creating a rapid rise in a brand’s recognition, digital has helped socialise TV and delivers the ROI through websites and follow up digital activity (in addition to instore) but it is vital that we work together to create more studies and more work to prove out these different theories and at an industry level, not just advertiser or agency case studies.
Digital has taken a battering over measurement and quality in recent times and indeed this should and I believe is a wake up call for many in the industry, TV on the other hand is perhaps guilty of resting on some laurels in terms of what it has achieved rather than making sure it is future proofing itself. An amazing amount of progress has been made in the last 2 or 3 years and its great to see but there is a lot more to go. An example of adaptation is where TV may use different tech to deliver ads but can still report back in similar TV metrics and not dive into digital ones, likewise video networks and supply sources have to find a way to include themselves in the GRP discussion rather than bang the table saying, ‘they are right about measurement.’ Todays moderator in an opening address was fast to try and encourage the audience to agree that TV measurement was wrong, we have always known it, but at least it was consistently wrong.’ Controversial. Especially given the current digital malaise. TV measurement is solid if at times a little limited but not wrong.
I would be excited to see TV progress in the way that Sky have started to go, taking incremental steps forward in targeting and reporting and I believe we will rapidly arrive at an offering that combines a good quotient of TV and Digital (there I go again, all TV is digital) benefits. Sky is in the driving seat right now so don’t be surprised to see the channel broadcasters cutting deals with Sky to be able to use Adsmart and IQ like targeting in the future. One area I will be interested in is to see how they embrace the data discussion as regards advertisers and their DMPs. It is still early days but the use of DMPs is moving at pace and becoming more and more sophisticated. As advertisers explore ways to use their first party data against media properties and media buying, perhaps TV has an opportunity to work with them collaboratively and not create another walled garden.
Of course Sky can become the next walled garden and on some levels I would not blame them, but they are in competition with Google and Facebook who most definitely are walled gardens. They are unlikely to change, Facebook has 350+ billion dollar reasons why it cant be bothered to, BUT ITV and C4 could go a different route and help advertisers invest in their properties and demonstrate sales through integrations with DMPs.
Its not often I sit on the fence or become a middle man, but I believe that we could all learn something from each other and one is not better than the other. The biggest crime is that we don’t admit failings and don’t admit that we could learn from one another. As more TV becomes localised, one important lesson to learn from digital is to not let standards drop on creative. TV advertising on the whole is of the highest standards but as a more local offering creeps in with Sky openly encouraging local businesses to come into the TV market place, we are in danger of having a US experience with men standing outside their local garages offering this weeks best deals. TV must keep creative of the highest standards.
We need to keep going back to understanding people, and as we know, people don’t differentiate these channels in the way our industry does, they instinctively just know what they want from each of them. We could all learn from that too and get on with working out how best to engage them and not annoy them.
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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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?
SEARS: Thanks, Marco!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stop spilling iced water all over the table. Please.
- 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.
- 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!