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. 

Jacob Beck – Merkle B2B

Tell us about yourself and your current role. 

My name is Jacob Beck. I am the programmatic director for North America at Merkle B2B. I oversee all of our media clients nationally, with the support of my team. I also help oversee a few of our global clients that we share across Merkle B2B and our partner agencies. I am very much involved with programmatic strategy, program execution, and creating best practices.

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

I first started working in programmatic when I was at Digitas. My accounts at the time were not the most difficult accounts and were very much action-oriented. I got to a point where I recommended moving all money away from display and into search, which was me signing my death certificate. And at the time Digitas was building their self-serve practice and providing training that I really liked. I studied economics in school and I love media, so programmatic allowed me to combine the two and do something I enjoyed.

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

I say that we use digital attributes from online browsing behaviors, and online information to serve those ads that follow you around websites. A fun analogy I like to use is: if I were to ask you to tell me 15 things about yourself, you could probably get to five or six before you start struggling. But every person has 10,000 plus digital attributes, and at any given time they are being identified online, whether it’s the content you’re reading, the website you’re visiting, or the way you search for things, all of those [attributes] are information that define who you are. It’s all information that we give to the internet because we find it valuable. Therefore, programmatic is the exchange of information. 

What are your thoughts on the cookieless future? 

I am less concerned than a lot of people may be and it’s because cookieless does not mean no more personalization. I think privacy is very important, everyone needs to be secure in what they’re doing. I also think marketers make privacy a bigger thing than consumers make it because they want to be involved in the conversation and they want to make sure they’re respecting the people who are using their products or services. Cookies are used because that’s just what was chosen in the 90s by a developer. Cookieless does not mean without personalization, and many companies are now coming out with different identifiers we could be using that are not cookie-based, that are more secure, and that are more safe.

What do you think is the most exciting technology or trend in digital advertising right now?

I am a big fan of connected television (CTV), especially as it relates to B2B. CTV is a really good place to stand out, especially as people are home more than ever before. I am excited to see what CTV offers and how other companies are utilizing the CTV space by working with partners that serve banners over CTV videos. At the moment, Hulu has done a great job of leading that front for the last couple years with their ad selector format. 

From the last transformational 18 months, can you share a couple of key insights, and with them in mind, what do you think are going to be some key trends in 2022? 

The last 18 months have definitely been all about connected television (CTV). The ability to work from home, the ability to engage more. Now working from home, the time we would have otherwise used to commute is being used connected to different devices, like desktop and CTV, while mobile has become more of an accompaniment or additional way to look for information. Therefore, we are seeing a resurgence back to desktop.

In terms of 2022 and programmatic, I currently see DSPs struggle with pathing; I want to serve on this exchange to get to this website but I don’t want to just truncate the exchange because other websites work well with that exchange or it’s a good quality website. Therefore, how can we work with platforms to better identify with the simple tools we have in the DSP as opposed to requiring a unique API path connection? This is something that interests me and supply path and supply path transparency are going to be another piece of the bigger conversation in 2022 and 2023.

There are so many industry trades covering programmatic and digital marketing. Which ones are your go-to or do you try to read or catch up on every day?

I learn a lot from AdExchanger and I also learn a lot from Reddit. There is a subreddit on programmatic, which I find really insightful. Some questions are very simple; some questions go more in depth.  I also find Twitter really engaging. It’s less about written pieces from Digitas and AdExchanger and Adweek and more about the conversations people are having. 

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

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

My parents. They pushed me to be the best I can be every day, and I would not be anywhere near who I am today without their support and their guidance. 

What is your favorite campaign of the past year?

I love the Geico, “Scoop, There It Is” campaign. The song is very uplifting, and their frequency might be through the roof but keep it coming! 

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

The best: If you want something, ask for it. 

The worst: Hard to say but I dislike when people are rewarded or encouraged for working late or on weekends. Balance should be rewarded. 

Finish the sentence – To me, programmatic is…

…complicated and helpful.