Everyone is talking about digital these days, but how much do you know about programmatic advertising, the innovation that has transformed marketing on the internet as we know it? In this ‘Passionate About Programmatic’ series, we highlight the people driving forward the revolutionary and ever-changing field of advertising, sharing perspectives from around the globe.

Tell us about yourself and your current role. 

I’ve been in the industry for 18 years now. I started out in digital operations and have been circling that niche for a while, but then expanded out into a little bit of product and a little bit of commercial stuff, as a jack of all trades. I’m currently running and building a trading desk, called Attentive, at the Miroma Group for their internal entertainment clients. It is focused on ensuring that users are actively seeing and engaging with ads, while driving the performance our clients need. 

How did you get into programmatic advertising and what do you love most about it?

It was a natural development from previous roles that stemmed from the old network days of the mid- and late-noughties into programmatic. What I love most about it is that it’s ever-changing – so you can’t necessarily rest on your laurels – and it’s ever-expanding as well. There’s always new ways, new opportunities, and new niches. Ten years ago, we were thinking about how TV would go programmatic, but now it is fully fledged, and connected TV is one of the biggest portions that we can work with. 

How would you explain programmatic advertising to someone outside the industry?

Kind of like an eBay for ads – which was probably a better way of describing it, when it was a second-party auction. Now it’s first-party, which is a little bit different and has ruined the analogy. But it’s still the same principle: you can get anything you want on there; highest bidder wins; and you’ve got to be careful what you buy. 

What are your thoughts about cookieless advertising?

Programmatically, it is the biggest issue at the moment. But it depends where you sit. There are a lot of small advertisers, the sorts of advertisers that sit with most of their budgets on social media, that need a cookieless solution that replaces the third-party cookie, because they are so reliant on that ultra-targeted type of media. Then there are some mid-size clients that are less dependent, but nonetheless still need performance media as well. And then there are some people that can probably exist purely on awareness type targeting and just at the top of the funnel type delivery. 

Cookieless is an opportunity for the industry to remake itself. What I think we need to explore is ways of making privacy-safe and compliant means of measurement and targeting in a very, very broad way. Google has obviously put a few different opportunities in the market, which haven’t necessarily cut the mustard. But broadly, they’ve probably got it right in so far as there is no user-based targeting or measurement; it’s done en masse. And that to me is probably the most effective and PR-friendly way of doing things as well. 

Do you think that strategy will be more focused on cohorts and first-party data or identifiers? Or is it going to be a mix of both? 

I think cohorts are going to be a very big thing in the upcoming years. I don’t think any cohort has necessarily the scale that they would want to be at right now. They’re on a long journey, having to integrate and sell themselves to publishers, and then sell their story to advertisers and agencies as well. But I do think that they are the ones that have the greatest opportunity for growth as a specific technology at the moment. In terms of formats, I’m loving connected TV; it’s a great technology as a mass market opportunity. But I’d also throw in custom algorithm-type technologies as well, taking impressionable data, aggregating and turning it into a custom algorithm for campaign and advertiser-specific targeting, rather than being reliant on the actual DSP. Those three would be top of the list for me.

Can you share a couple of insights gained from this transformational time in adtech, and with them in mind, what do you think are going to be some key trends in the next year?

I think the demand side platform (DSP)supply side platform (SSP) relationship will become more blurred over the next year, potentially seeing acquisitions by one across or by bypassing SSPs (sorry, SSPs) altogether. It’s a move that other companies in the market have started to do and will likely see increase. These relationships may in turn help the rise of private networks, feeding into cookieless opportunities. 

The Quantcast Query (a rapid-fire Q&A)

Who is your role model–in the industry or otherwise? 

James Poll is the CTO of Acorn-i, which is a kind of Amazon-based ecommerce platform. He was the head of development at my previous company, and the ideas that he has, the ways he galvanizes a team, the way he will lead whilst also getting his hands dirty, is brilliant. He’s one of the best.

What is your favorite campaign of the past year?

It’s probably Moulin Rouge. I loved the movie when it came out, and to be part of the launch of the musical, making sure it got seen by the right people, was pretty cool. 

What is the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?

I tend to go with never be afraid to employ people that are more intelligent than you. 

Finish the sentence: To me, programmatic is…

…the opportunity to activate anywhere and everywhere.

Learn more

If you missed earlier installments in our ‘Passionate about Programmatic’ series, check out interviews with Seun Odeneye (EMEA), K Haravin (APAC), Jacob Beck ( AMER: US), Seif Khemaissia (AMER: Canada), Andrew Spurrier-Dawes (EMEA), and Ben Foster (EMEA). We’ve also started a new ‘Passionate about Publishing’ series, featuring Danny Zarek (EMEA)