JAY SEARS: What do you read to keep up with politics, art and culture?
MATT SPIEGEL: Wall Street Journal, CNN, Politico, Wired, Rolling Stone
SEARS: What do you read to keep up with friends?
SPIEGEL: Facebook, Instagram (there is some reading involved)
SEARS: What do you read to keep up with the advertising technology industry?
SPIEGEL: Wall Street Journal, AdAge, AdWeek, AdExchanger, Business Insider, Re/code, Beet.TV
SEARS: What’s your favorite commercial of all time?
SPIEGEL: I have to give some love to my home town and go with the Gatorade “Be Like Mike” commercial -- the original of course.
SEARS: With regards to advertising automation, what are the three biggest trends you expect to impact companies in 2016?
- Use of audience intelligence for optimization and addressability in linear TV
- Ability to understand consumer behaviors across devices
- Faster feedback loop of media performance tied to business metrics -- including “offline” metrics
SEARS: With regards to advertising automation, what are the three most overblown topics that you wish would just go away?
- Importance of open exchanges/marketplaces: This is not where the action really is or will be.
- Mass media with one-to-one targeting: Scale still requires segmentation, more granular and adaptable segments, but segmentation is still the answer.
- Marketers bringing media buying in-house: The vast majority of the time, clients are and should be taking a bigger role in their media strategy and planning processes, but rarely is that actually about “pulling the levers” as the trade-press suggests.
SEARS: Please describe your firm.
SPIEGEL: MediaLink is a strategic advisory firm that works at the intersection of media, technology, entertainment and finance, or as we like to say – we connect Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Silicon Valley and Hollywood. Our clients turn to us because as ex-operators ourselves we marry our strategic thinking with operational excellence.
SEARS: What are the three most common issues you help clients on regarding automation and programmatic trading?
- A marketer’s need to update their media management model to include greater influence of data and enabling technology, the related skills development and process updates (across departments and partners), and the selection of enterprise technology providers.
- A media company’s need to move past the word “programmatic” and towards the need to have a granular understanding of their audience as well as the technical capabilities to monetize their audience across channels and buying processes (both manual/automated and guaranteed/non-guaranteed).
- Digital innovators’ (ad-tech, data/insights and similar firms) need to identify their product-market fit and truly understand the expectations of marketers and their agencies.
SEARS: The majority of ad technology companies (relatively small, unprofitable or both) have struggled. Of the poor performers, what are the commonalities between them that have contributed to this weakness?
SPIEGEL: A couple of very common issues:
- Their company offering is at best a product, or even only a feature of a product, instead of a stand-alone solution.
- There is little appreciation and understanding for how the media and advertising business actually works.
- There is an inflated sense of delivered value (relates to the first two points) that weakens potential collaboration with clients.
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?
SPIEGEL: The opposite of the above.
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?
SPIEGEL: No, that’s a very “digital centric” view of the world. Both Google and Facebook are extremely impressive organizations that are indeed key players in the industry, but I think the ~$70B “TV” ecosystem has reasons to be counted as more than just “scraps.”
SEARS: Please answer the following statements yes or no.
SEARS: If you could go to the airport right now with friends or family and fly anywhere in the world for vacation, who would you take and where would you go?
SPIEGEL: Today’s answer (because there are plenty of options and I might feel differently tomorrow): I’d take the wife and head to Machu Picchu.
SEARS: If you could create an endowment to fund any existing non-profit you designated, what lucky non-profit organization would that be?
SPIEGEL: Having lost my dad to multiple myeloma a handful of years ago, I’d support the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, which by the way is focused on big-data meets personalized medicine.
SEARS: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?
SPIEGEL: That’s like picking a favorite child, you can’t do that. On the top of my list: Fat Willy’s Rib Shack in Chicago; Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, and Nobu, anywhere!
SEARS: Thanks, Matt!
Do know a leading ad automation consultant in the ad automation and programmatic area advising advertisers and media companies that I should consider interviewing? Let me know.
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