Today we present a Q&A between advertising automation executive Arun Kumar of IPG Mediabrands and Jay Sears of Rubicon Project. ( Editor’s Note: Be sure also to read Jay’s interview with Tim Gentry of Guardian News and Media . )

Your Name: Arun Kumar

Your Company: IPG Mediabrands

Your Title: President, Mediabrands Audience Platform, W. Europe, APAC, LATAM

SEARS: What flavor ice cream best describes your management style?

KUMAR: Banana split sundae

SEARS: On average in the EMEA market -- out of each $1.00 spent on media (all media, not just digital) by one of your advertisers, how much today is spent on automated or programmatic channels?

KUMAR: 0.03. We are in very early stages of adoption across all media. We should hit 5% in the next year or so with large clients.

SEARS: What was this number in 2011?

KUMAR: 0.005

SEARS: What will this number be in 2015?

KUMAR: 0.10

SEARS: Tell us the about the EMEA operations of IPG Mediabrands.

KUMAR: We are a technology enabled data driven audience buying company focused on delivering business outcomes for our clients.

SEARS: Please tell us:

  • SEARS: What countries are you entering in 2014?

o KUMAR: Europe, more markets in LATAM

SEARS: What are IPG Mediabrands’ three biggest initiatives in EMEA for 2014?


1. Attribution modeling

2. Better integration with other workflows within agency

3. Developing automation for traditional channels.

SEARS: To reach a higher adoption of direct order automation and use of the programmatic channel, what are the major impediments to overcome? Rank these in numerical order:


__3_ Operational or workforce issues inside the holding companies or operating agencies

_1_ Premium (direct deal) inventory availability via programmatic

_2__ Lack of proper ad technology

___ Alignment of agency compensation models

KUMAR: Once platforms and inventory are available, the rest is easy. It is getting the big stations on board and aligning on a single platform that provides the challenge.

SEARS: What should top comScore publisher CROs do to build their direct order automation and programmatic selling with your trading desk and operating agencies?

KUMAR: Open inventory, be flexible with the platforms -- they will work with and distinguish between custom content and efficiency drivers. Most importantly, use their data to enable better targeting for advertisers which will in tune lead to better monetization for themselves.

SEARS: Why is direct order automation so important? Is it important?

KUMAR: It is because ultimately any ad that needs to be put in a slot or space should involve little time and effort and be as scientific and aligned to audiences as possible. That frees up resources and time to focus on building big large experiences for brands.

SEARS: What countries in the EMEA region are the leaders and laggards in programmatic?

KUMAR: UK, France, Netherlands, Belgium and the Nordics are leaders. The biggest laggard is Germany with its tight publisher market that shows no signs of change. Italy and Spain are smaller markets that will take time to mature.

SEARS: Tell us a bit more about you.

KUMAR: Traditional media guy who rebelled, went digital then rebelled again and went to automation. Love being out of my comfort zone; I change my phones every few months so I can keep changing OS and not settle down. Spend most of my time watching cricket or reading up about World War 2 battles and visiting battlefields.

SEARS: If you could choose a movie star to be the global head of your trading desk, who would you choose and why?

KUMAR: Tom Hanks. Been around, done that, still fresh and can do so much more.

SEARS: If you could travel for pleasure anywhere in the world, to a place you have never been, where would you go?

KUMAR: Saipan

SEARS: If you were trapped alone on a desert island and needed to choose one ad holding company CEO to accompany you ( other than your own holding company CEO), which CEO would you pick and why?

KUMAR: Sergey Brin, Google. Yes, Google is an ad holding company folks.

SEARS: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

KUMAR: The little café that prepared the best bowl of pasta I have ever had in an alley in Nice, France. I am still trying to locate it since I forgot to take down its name.

Thanks Arun!

Jay Sears is Senior Vice President, Marketplace Development for the Rubicon Project. Sears works with leadership and business unit heads across the company to expand Rubicon Project’s potential market. Sears has also served as General Manager, REVV Buyer, where he was responsible for global relations with the buy side including ad holding companies, ad agencies, agency trading desks and demand side platforms headquartered in North America. Jay can be reached at

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