Lori Tavoularis of Tribune Digital -- The Jay Sears Interview

By Archived Rubicon Project Archives
Cover image for  article: Lori Tavoularis of Tribune Digital -- The Jay Sears Interview

Continuing a recent series of interviews with global trading desk heads that culminated in his Six Advertising Automation Trends for Buyers and Sellers, Jay Sears, SVP at Rubicon Project, now hears from the sell side—leading publishers across the United States and Europe.

Today he speaks with Tribune Digital.

Your Name: Lori Tavoularis

Your Company: Tribune Digital

Your Title: Managing Director, Revenue Partnerships

What Flavor Ice Cream Best Describes Your Management Style:


SEARS: On average—out of each $1.00 of advertising revenue received by your company, how much today is from automated or programmatic channels?

TAVOULARIS: 2013 automated or programmatic revenue $0.03 of every $1.00 of advertising revenue.

SEARS: What was this number two years ago, in 2011?


SEARS: What will this number be two years from now, in 2015?

TAVOULARIS: Hopefully a lot more than it is today. I feel we are in a good place from an internal adoption standpoint but the traditional and non-automated advertising revenue is still the lion’s share.

SEARS: Tell us the about Tribune Digital.

TAVOULARIS: Tribune Digital is the centralized digital media arm of Tribune Company that manages the operations and revenue partnerships for Tribune’s daily newspapers and their associated websites. Tribune Company is one of the country’s leading multimedia companies, operating businesses in broadcasting, publishing and emerging media. In publishing, Tribune’s leading daily newspapers include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, Sun Sentinel (South Florida), Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant, The Morning Call and Daily Press. Popular niche and information websites compliment Tribune’s portfolio of sites.


· Overall advertising revenue via automated systems, expected 2013 GLOBAL:


· Percentage increase, advertising revenue via automated systems 2012 vs. expected 2013 [Global only #]:


· How many employees do you have globally [headcount number]?

o TAVOULARIS: ~9000 Worldwide

SEARS: What are Tribune Digital’s three biggest initiatives for 2014?


1. Programmatic (PMP and Guaranteed)

2. Data and monetization

3. Native advertising

SEARS: By 2015, what percentage of total advertising sales across your company will be from automated or programmatic channel?

TAVOULARIS: We are finally seeing traction in this channel and are hoping for tremendous growth.

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


___2 Operational or workforce issues inside the holding companies or operating agencies

___5 Premium (direct deal) inventory availability via programmatic

___4 Lack of proper ad technology

___3 Alignment of agency compensation models

__1_ Alignment of publisher compensation models

TAVOULARIS: On the publishing side, this will be a change in how our reps go to market and are compensated which is a change that does not come easily. We also have yet to see demand from the buy side on us providing this type of offering.

SEARS: Tell us about your first party data strategy—do you currently have a DMP (data management platform) for your first party data?

TAVOULARIS: We are currently in the process of implementing a DMP. We are excited about the new opportunities this type of partnership will allow for both our direct sales organization as well as our programmatic channels. Since our data is such a valuable commodity, there is always the concern that the rates offered for this type of packaging will not match the value of that data.

SEARS: Direct sold inventory is often sold three to 12 months in advance. Which of the following choices best describe how you use direct order automation and Connect—check all that apply:


1. ___ We use direct order automation and Connect to leverage our first party data and bundle it with our media;

2. ___ We use direct order automation and Connect to make available an “electronic version” of our media kit and related editorial calendar inventory packages (example: holiday or back-to-school themed packages) to buyers;

3. _x__ We use direct order automation and Connect to make available premium placements such as home page, section pages and other opportunities that are not available in the open market;

4. __x_ We use direct order automation and Connect to make available IAB Rising Star ad units and rich media ad units.

5. ___ We do not use direct order automation and Connect and believe all inventory should be sold via auction (with appropriate business rules, of course!)

SEARS: What advertising opportunities will never be sold via advertising automation?

TAVOULARIS: I think that is hard to say right now, there is so much that can still evolve. At one point we did not think we would allow Rising Star or Rich Media via programmatic and now we are. I think that most things are on the table as long as the technology is there and the right tools and controls are around it.

SEARS: Have you received “Programmatic RFPs” for your inventory? What do these look like and how are they different than traditional RFPs?

TAVOULARIS: Yes we have. The look or info asked for has varied a bit. Some look just like an agency RFP with a lot of the initiative overview information and are very detailed. Unfortunately more often than not, there is not any type of budget commitment or ideas of potential spend.

SEARS: What should top publisher chief revenue officers (CROs) do to build their direct order automation (also known as programmatic premium) and programmatic selling business with trading desks and operating agencies?

TAVOULARIS: I think this is still a work in progress for most publishers. For many publishers it starts with an overhaul of the sales/ops structure and a succinct strategy of how the teams go to market. There needs to be a mindset that programmatic is just another product or offering from a publisher instead of that it is a completely different revenue channel.

Tell us a bit more about you:

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


SEARS: When is the last time you went out for a three martini lunch?

TAVOULARIS: Does wine count?

Thanks Lori!

Jay Sears is Senior Vice President, Marketplace Development for the Rubicon Project. Sears worksJay Searswith 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 jsears@rubiconproject.com.

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