Programmatic Stars celebrates the pioneers, trailblazers and innovators holding the role of Head of Programmatic, one critical to any company today.
What do you love most about your role as Head of Programmatic?
The best thing about being head of programmatic is that I get to collaborate with such a wide range of people across the industry; this helps me to develop new ideas and new streams of work to adapt to client needs and industry development.
So although I work in what is considered a specialist area of digital, programmatic is never static and is the engine behind digital advertising so there is always a new angle to spin or something new to try – I love the variety and the opportunity to share new ideas when talking to programmatic practitioners and clients alike.
What is the biggest opportunity for programmatic over the next year?
The next year is going to require even more adaptation to the way we transact, target and measure programmatic. As data becomes harder to use, we have an opportunity to prepare our clients to adapt the tools we use for audience targeting and re-shape our thinking around how we reach audiences, how we manage frequency and exposure and how we measure the success of campaigns.
Right now we have the opportunity to start testing targeting strategies and tech that use natural language processing and semantics to find new ways of extracting signals form the content people are browsing and start to look at more advanced ways of using environment and context to reach the audience we are looking for.
This year there is also an opportunity for the programmatic industry to prove itself against some of the areas that have come under scrutiny over the last few years.
The biggest opportunity is to demonstrate that programmatic has come a long way in enabling cleaner, more transparent transactions and has advanced in such a way that brands can be confident in the tools and processes used to protect their brands online and ensure that their media spend is auditable.
What is your proudest achievement in programmatic?
My proudest achievement is having worked with people new into the industry and mentoring them though their navigation of programmatic and seeing them develop a passion through learning by practice the fundamentals of programmatic planning and execution as a basis for their career development.
My proudest moments are when I see people who started in the industry four or five years ago navigating their clients through a rapidly-developing programmatic strategy and continuing their advocation and learning in this area. Even if they are not hands-on-keyboard, executing the programmatic buy, they are still developing this specialism and driving forward programmatic innovation with their clients.
What are the biggest challenges for programmatic and how will we overcome them?
Legislative changes and the use of data, consumer perception of advertising and supporting news publishers by increasing education around brand suitability and brand alignment against hard news content.
Changes to the way we use data for targeting will affect one of the fundamentals of programmatic, precision targeting on a one to one basis. Though it will be a challenge to adjust the way we apply data it also presents us with a great opportunity to redeem one of the areas that we as an industry all need to make improvements towards and that’s improving consumer trust and perception of online advertising.
One area that we’re particularly focused on at OMD UK is around trust in advertising. The Advertising Association (AA) published a paper last year in which it highlighted that public trust in advertising is at an all-time low and unfortunately programmatic advertising has contributed to this.
We recognised this at OMD UK and partnered with the AA to create a joint strategy to tackle issues such as excessive frequency, privacy concerns and interruptive formats. These are things that the media industry needs to manage better in order to ensure consumers are seeing the value of advertising, rather than considering it an interruptive annoyance.
The demise of third-party cookies is going to really push the industry into finding better ways to manage frequency and as more devices and channels become programmatically enabled, having a holistic view of frequency and exposure becomes more important than ever.
I saw a comment published on social media from someone I know who only works loosely in digital advertising; she was angry at being insensitively targeted with ads and she called out to the brand to “sort out their programmatic”. As much as I’m pleased that programmatic is becoming so mainstream, it concerns me that the general public can pinpoint programmatic as the enabler behind bad and insensitive targeting and this is something we really need to fix.
The way that we educate brands on brand suitability and safety can really have an impact on supporting news publishers who are finding large amounts of their content being avoided or blocked because there are some overzealous blocking attempts at play. It is so important for our industry, for journalism and for the free internet that we keep dialogue open with brands and offer them education and test new technology to make sure this challenge is managed.
What innovation or technology in programmatic are you most excited about?
I’m really interested in testing some of the new content verification tools that have the capability to decipher the tone and sentiment of content being browsed in order to look at ways to target consumer based on emotional signals like their current need state, frame of mind or mood.
I’m really excited about tests we have underway to determine how signals we can get based on the type of content a user is consuming can affect the response to the brand they see advertising adjacent to the content.