Barry Frey of the DPAA: Trade Leaders and Impacts of Ad Automation and Programmatic

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Cover image for  article: Barry Frey of the DPAA: Trade Leaders and Impacts of Ad Automation and Programmatic

In a series of conversations with trade association leaders and their view of impacts of ad automation, programmatic and other priorities, Jay Sears discusses trends and issues of the day impacting advertisers and media owners. In this interview, he talks with Barry Frey, President and CEO of the Digital Place-Based Advertising Association. (Note: Jay was Senior Vice President of Rubicon Project when he conducted this interview.)

JAY SEARS: What media do you consume to keep up with politics, art and culture?

BARRY FREY: Morning Joe is a great way to start off the day with a smart, relatively nonpartisan view of the world and politics. Great coverage and opinion during morning workouts. I read The New York Times and Wall Street Journal first thing on iPad and then jump into social media to see what's trending in politics, art and culture.

SEARS: What do you read to keep up with friends?

FREY:  Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.  Even as time and distance separates us, when we do come together everyone is up to date on everything, as social media has become the great connective tissue.

SEARS: What do you read to keep up with the media and advertising technology industries?

FREY:  MediaVillage, of course. Jack Myers continues to evolve successfully and deliver tremendous value to the advertising community. Additional regular reading encompasses MediaPost, Ad Age, AdExchanger, TV Week and Ad Week. I love reading Ken Auletta's brilliant perspectives in The New Yorker and Claire Atkinson's great reportage in the New York Post. Adrian Cotterill's DailyDOOH offers clever global coverage on the vibrant, fast growing digital out-of-home market.  I always look forward to Monday's New York Times and must say that Jim Rutenberg has brought some great fresh insights to the old grey lady.  I miss Stuart Elliott in the Times but enjoy him in MediaVillage and I review Digital Signage Pulse for their aggregation of relevant ad stories -- all via pushed e-mail, apps and even some pulp.

SEARS:  What's your favorite commercial of all time?

FREY:  No particular single commercial, but I have always loved the Geico campaigns. I have a fondness for geckos, in addition to the other non-gecko, yet brilliant creative. Love seeing their ads on Captivate elevator screens.

SEARS:  Describe your membership.

FREY:  Our membership is comprised of all companies engaged in the process of reaching consumers via digital and video outside the home. This includes the total ecosystem of digital screens and location companies reaching today's active, mobile society throughout North America, Latam, Australasia and EMEA.

As our members have embraced the extraordinary capabilities of data use, targeting, addressability, programmatic, location data, interactivity and more; DPAA has grown to include software and hardware companies, mobile data, mobile targeting and re-targeting, programmatic, ad-tech, research, venues, transportation systems and content companies.  The growth has been very organic, as our media revenues have grown another 8% this year.

SEARS:  With regards to major impacts to your membership, what are the three biggest trends in 2016 and 2017?


  1. Societal shifts to a more active, mobile populace spending more time in cities, out and about, outside the home and on the go (70% of consumer time spent out of home);
  2. Continued decline and fragmentation of video and screen choices inside the home, including TV fragmentation and a decline of 12% in desktop usage over the past three years;
  3. Proliferation and increased capabilities of digital screens+video+mobile outside the home. Capabilities include tie-ins with mobile/location data, mobile re-targeting, programmatic, attribution, geo-targeting, visual detection, et al.

SEARS:  With specific regards to advertising spend, what are the three biggest trends in 2016 and 2017?


  1. Increasing wariness of ad blocking, viewability and impression fraud. As our media exists on closed systems, we are pleased not to have any of these issues;
  2. Increased media expenditures in reaching consumers on the go.  Mobile and our digital screens have been very effective in reaching our increasingly mobile society;
  3. The smart and effective use of location data, programmatic systems and video to increase efficiencies and effectiveness.

SEARS:  Describe your trade association and then tell us your top three initiatives overall.

FREY:  DPAA is the trade marketing group providing industry leadership to the global advertising world for the digital place-based and digital out-of-home industry, encompassing mobile data, programmatic and other companies seeking digital and video messaging to our mobile society. Due to a wide array and frequent increase of digital and location capabilities, as well as screen growth and fragmenting of other digital and video media, our industry is continuing its 8% annual ad spend growth rates. Our education, thought leadership, evangelism, guidelines and standards serve our membership and the ad community.

Our initiatives:

  1. Video everywhere.  As video opportunities inside the home (TV, desktop viewing) continue to fragment and advertisers seek premium quality video impressions, we are showcasing our members' impactful screens and program environments to the advertising community.
  2. Programmatic. DPAA is continuing our work with Prohaska Consulting. We are leading our members into the space, defining the roadmap, plus organizing guiding principles for creative, data and tech usage. Additionally, we are helping our members connect to all other relevant ecosystem pipes.
  3. Mobile and location. The power of our members to reach consumers on the go, develop very specific cohort segments, indicate attribution, utilize mobile data, implement mobile re-targeting campaigns and provide visual detection data are making a vital contribution to reaching our mobile society.  We've developed Mobile/DPB Best Practices and a road show that inform brands and agencies and give examples of how to best combine location data, mobile and digital screen opportunities.

SEARS:  Advertising automation and data-driven advertising continue to be a surging force.  It promises unprecedented control, but not all supply chain participants [consumers, media owners, agencies, advertisers] feel in control.  Is this simply the result of an emerging, fast changing dynamic market?  If not, what is missing?

FREY:  Ultimately automation should provide any participant greater control, but too few people/companies currently realize this promise. While some media sectors are further down the path than others, data-driven advertising, to the extent possible today, is still a fairly new way of doing things. What's missing is education and a restructuring of how media agencies compensate buyers. Once these two factors are straightened out, all stakeholders will take to it faster and realize they do have control.

SEARS:  Will Nielsen remain the standard for media currency with video/TV? Will the innovations be primarily in audience definition and measurement, with these innovations being "translated back" to Nielsen as the currency?

FREY:  Nielsen is the currency that our media owners use. Additionally, many members use mobile device ID and visual recognition to better target audiences with relevant ads.  We anticipate through Nielsen's fourth screen report and Fusion software enabling buyers to build R&F in conjunction with other video media. Some of our ad-tech members such as Ayuda, Vistar, xAd, SITO Mobile and others are leveraging new and exciting data sets from mobile exchanges, beacon aggregation, cellular and SDK-based sources. We form advertiser targets from where devices have been and where they are.  Of course, all of the data is aggregated and anonymized with no delivery of PII (personally identifiable information). Meanwhile, new and exciting visual detection from companies such as Quividi used by Broadsign and others deliver great targeting detail on gender, age, engagement, mood et al.

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?  What do you expect the impact of Google and Facebook to be in "video everywhere"/TV?

FREY:  Interestingly, we own the url -- as video is now everywhere including our members' screens. Facebook and Google are certainly formidable forces in media today and the near future.  In our model, our members focus on delivering strong viewer engagement, large and impactful screens, location and other data -- all as consumers are on the path to purchase.

SEARS: Please answer the following statements yes or no.


SEARS:  Tell us a bit more about you. 

FREY:  I've always been a media evangelist, passionate about where technology and new media products change habits and advertising consumption. Thematically, my roles have always been similar in leadership positions supporting the development of media products while advocating for the ad community to follow the consumer.  I've sort of lived by Churchill's quote, "Leadership is not about pushing people in a direction ... it's about understanding where they need to go … and then, helping them to get there." I have a wonderful family with my kids giving back and creatively working in media.

SEARS:  If you had your own TV talk show, what would you name it?

FREY:  Well Jay, I believe you and others have seen this show for many years.  It currently takes place at the Video Everywhere Summit, and at our quarterly member meetings and recently when I moderated at Advertising Week.  We do interviews with thought leaders, a bit of stand up, some game show elements, plus the latest news on the confluence of advertising, content and technology and how it all influences society and media. Evidently, it's been a show segment, but we are thinking about branching out. We are entertaining new ideas.

SEARS:  What annual conference -- not run by your own association -- do you enjoy attending the most and why?

FREY:  ANA Masters of Marketing brings together all of the right people to help set the stage for next year's planning.  Bob Liodice does a great job of coalescing the issues and opportunities for the ad community.  CES has become the place for ad-tech, media, advertising and content. It has become a "must attend" for our members as we put together a curated trip for them to navigate the throngs of people and masses of product. DMEXCO is tremendously inspiring to understand where ad-tech, mar-tech is and where it is going. The Lions Festival is a terrific environment for really getting to know people and their business on a deep, honest level.

SEARS:  What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

FREY:  Well, there are so many great culinary establishments, yet for an overall dining and business experience, I vote hands down for Michael's in New York City.  Michael and Steve offer an environment that's hospitable, consistently warm, genuine and utterly focused on their clients and mine!  It is also open, well-lit and the round tables are adroitly conducive to great business discussions.  Of course, as we expand beyond mid-town Manhattan there is the Waverly Inn downtown, Spring and Scott's in London and Guy Savoy in Paris.

SEARS:  Thanks, Barry!

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