Mac Delaney of Merkle on Advertising Automation and Programmatic

By Archived Rubicon Project Archives
Cover image for  article: Mac Delaney of Merkle on Advertising Automation and Programmatic

Jay Sears, Senior Vice President Marketplace Development of Rubicon Project discusses advertising automation with Mac Delaney (pictured above), Senior Vice President, Head of Programmatic at Merkle as part of a series of buyer conversations on the topic.

(Left to right: Jay Sears; Art Muldoon, CEO and Co-founder, Accordant Media; Oleg Korenfeld, Executive Vice President, Ad Tech and Platforms, Mediavest | Spark; Hossein Houssaini, Global Head of Programmatic Solutions, Havas Media Group; Mac Delaney, and Paul Dalton, Chief Media Officer, International DigitasLBi at the 4th Annual Automated Advertising Panel at Cannes this past summer. Click on the links above to read Jay's interviews with other members of this group.)

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

MAC DELANEY: For art and culture I read Jezebel daily, sometimes twice a day. As a man, you’d be wise to do the same. I read TheWeek to stay current and I’m still a reader of I’ve also become obsessed with Hypebeast and HighSnobiety. I avoid politics.

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

DELANEY: Facebook and Instagram

SEARS: What do you read to keep up with the advertising technology industry?

DELANEY: Wall Street Journal, CMO, AdAge, AdWeek, AdExchanger, Recode

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

DELANEY: I don’t have a favorite but the Nissan “Toys” commercial from 1996 always stands out. I met the CD recently at an industry cocktail party and he shared the story of how he came up with the idea of G.I Joe picking up Barbie to Van Halen’s You Really Got Me. Like actors who want to be directors, media people like me want to be creatives. Sigh.

SEARS: With regards to advertising automation, what are the three biggest trends you expect to impact companies in 2016 and 2017?


  1. As tech licensing fees drop independent platforms will continue to feel the squeeze.
  2. Those independent companies in the middle with no real data/tech/media differentiation will feel the squeeze.
  3. Mass SaaS adoption will push clients and agencies to put much more rigor around execution while technology platforms will need to build in a higher level of controls.

SEARS: With regards to advertising automation, what are the three most overblown topics that you wish would just go away?


  1. Programmatic
  2. Viewability
  3. Clients bringing it in house

SEARS: Describe your company or division and then tell us the three most common issues with which you help clients with respect to advertising automation and programmatic trading.

DELANEY: If you fixed everything broken about today’s agency model adding everything that’s missing -- from org structure to competencies, from the right DNA to the right compensation model -- you’d have Merkle. Merkle is the modern agency. Merkle has a heritage of data management, advanced analytics and modeling with the full spectrum marketing services wrapped around it including systems integration and change management consulting.

Merkle helps clients solve the complexity of the new marketing landscape by consolidating, enabling and standing up best in class technology, wrapping world class marketing services around the stack and consulting organizations seeking to translate the new vernacular into the old-world dialect.

SEARS: Tell us about your company or division.


SEARS: The majority of ad technology companies have struggled (relatively small, unprofitable or both). Of the poor performers, what are the commonalities between them that have contributed to this weakness?

DELANEY: They held onto black-boxed, managed service too long before rolling out a self-serve platform. They chose to circumvent the media agencies in a play to capture greater share by going client direct. They over invested in marketing and resources instead of staying lean.

SEARS: A smaller handful of ad technology companies has achieved scale and performed better than the rest. What are the commonalities between them that have contributed to this relative strength?

DELANEY: Outstanding customer service by their teams and a collaborative, fair and seasoned senior management team you could trust.

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?

DELANEY: By the numbers it may appear that’s the case. For search, there are few alternatives to Google so they earn every dollar recognize there. You could argue the same for YouTube. Facebook is the Google of search so there’s that. With the rise of people-based marketing however, publishers of all kinds will even the playing field by enabling scalable 1:1 marketing to become a reality. This will form a solid bookend to Google and Facebook.

SEARS: How can advertising automation help the strategy and planning functions (directly or indirectly) at an advertising agency?

DELANEY: People-based forecasting is important so the ability to connect an audience segment to a bankable media plan is key.  

SEARS: Transparency -- on media costs, on data, on inventory -- continues to be a lightning rod issue. Should transparency be a negotiated benefit for the advertiser client, yes or no?

DELANEY: Transparency is table stakes. I see marketers already moving on having decided if the provider isn’t able to break down costs they’re irrelevant.

SEARS: Please answer the following statements yes or no.


SEARS: If you owned a yacht, what would you name it?

DELANEY: “Jennie,” after my wife. Can’t go wrong there.

SEARS: A young family member has come to you seeking career advice. They must choose one of the following careers: ad agency executive, ad tech executive, company marketing executive or ice cream shop owner on the French Riviera. Which career path do you recommend and why?

DELANEY: Company marketing executive. Best work-life-balance in what will become a far more understood and appreciated division.

SEARS: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

DELANEY: Delaney’s Steakhouse, Madison, WI.

SEARS: Thanks, Mac!

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